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Life in Motion

7 Common Questions Patients Have Before Surgery

Health & Prevention

Playing an active role in your own healthcare can improve outcomes and help you feel better prepared for surgery. Below are seven of the most common questions patients have prior to their procedure.

Q: Is there anything I can do to help my surgery go as smoothly as possible?
A: Stay healthy!

If you’re generally healthy, you have a lower risk of complications during surgery, and your recovery time will be shorter. Here are a few things you can do to stay healthy before your surgery:

  • Ask your surgeon about exercises you can do both before and after the surgery to help strengthen the muscles around the injured area and the muscles you will need to recover—like upper-body muscles if you need crutches.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. If you need tips, read our blog on health, weight, and joint pain.
  • Check with your primary care physician to make sure you are up to date on your flu and pneumonia vaccines. Vaccines can be given up until 2 weeks prior to your surgery.
  • If you smoke, try to quit or significantly cut down. Smoking slows blood circulation and will make your recovery take longer.
  • Stop alcohol use two weeks prior to surgery.

Q: What should I eat/drink the day before my surgery?
A: Do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before your surgery takes place.

This includes chewing gum, mints, and water. (You may brush your teeth, but make sure you do not swallow any water or toothpaste.)

Q: What do I need to bring to my surgery?
A: Your personal and medical information.

Many of the people you encounter in the hospital will ask you for information about your medical history, insurance coverage, and personal arrangements. Be sure to bring a list of all allergies and medical conditions you have, contact information for doctors you see and your reasons for seeing them, and medicines you currently take (including vitamins and over-the-counter pills). Don’t forget:

  • Glasses
  • Hearing aides
  • Loose fitting pants or shorts
  • Comfortable shirt
  • Sneakers or other rubber soled shoes (no open shoes)

Q: What should I leave at home?
A: Your valuables.

All valuables, including jewelry, cash, or your wallet (but DO remember to bring a picture ID!) should be left at home for safekeeping. Because they can interfere with surgery, do not wear jewelry, make-up, watches, or contact lenses. Leave tobacco products behind as well. Most hospitals will not allow them on the hospital grounds.

Q: How should I prepare my home for my return?
A: Do some rearranging and pre-arranging.

Here’s a room-by-room guide to help make your recovery as easy as possible:

  • Living room: Clear pathways, remove throw rugs you could slip on, have items you use regularly (cordless phone, remote control, water) within arm’s reach.
  • Kitchen: Remove throw rugs, prepare and freeze meals ahead of time, put frequently used items at counter height.
  • Bathroom: If instructed by your doctor, install grab bars near toilet. Place a rubber mat in the shower/tub.
  • For more details about preparing your home, see our article on preparing for joint replacement surgery.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure the people living with you have care arrangements. Arrange for help if you’re the primary caregiver for children, your spouse, or another member of your family. Ensure your pets will be cared for, including walking and feeding. Also arrange assistance with groceries, laundry, and house cleaning.

Q: How will I get home?
A: Phone a friend!

You will not be permitted to drive yourself, so be sure to make arrangement for someone to bring you home. Ask a reliable friend, relative, or caregiver to drive, and make sure you bring that person’s name and phone number with you.

Q: What will my recovery be like?
A: It depends on you and your surgery.

The length of your recovery period will depend on you as an individual and the type of surgery you received. You doctor will give you specific post-operative instructions before you leave, so be sure to ask for help if you do not understand them.

If you have other questions about your surgery, consult your doctor. You doctor can provide you with more specific information relating to your situation.

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