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Operations range from simple, quick, and fairly risk-free outpatient procedures performed under local anesthesia to invasive, risky, inpatient procedures that require a longer stay. What you need to do to prepare for surgery depends on the kind of surgery you are having. Here are some tips, but the golden rule is — if you have any questions, always address them directly to your treatment team. 

First Things First: Preparing To Prepare For Your Surgery

In preparing for non-emergency surgery, depending on where you live and your financial means, you may be able to choose where you have your operation and who performs it. Some tips:

  • If you are planning to undergo your surgery at a private facility, check that the facility is properly licensed and look into its accreditation. 
  • Ask how well the hospital or clinic is equipped in case of complications — can complications also be handled at the same facility, or would you need to be transferred? If so, where?
  • Check the experience and qualifications of key members of your medical team, such as the surgeon and anesthesiologist. You can also look patient reviews of the physicians up on the internet in many cases. 

Before Your Surgery

You will likely have a pre-operative consultation prior to non-emergency or elective surgery. Here, your general health will be assessed. You'll talk about any medications you are using and discuss allergies you may have.

If the surgery is not due to take place in the immediate future, you may be given tips that prepare you for surgery, such as following a healthier diet and quitting smoking. Proper blood glucose control will shorten the recovery time in diabetics.

You will also be given instructions on what to do before your surgery before it happens:

  • Your doctor will tell you whether you need to refrain from eating and drinking before the surgery, and if you need to fast prior to the operation, you will be told for how long. 
  • Your doctor will tell you not to drink alcohol for at least 24 hours before your operation.
  • You will be told whether you need to stop using any prescription medications you use before the surgery. 
  • You will be told to remove any jewelry and piercings you may have before the operation. You cannot wear nail polish either, as nails give your medical team important information about your blood circulation.
  • Ask what you need to bring to the hospital or clinic, how soon after the procedure you can expect to leave if everything goes well, and ask any other questions you may have. 
  • You will want to bring some money, and any documents your facility says are required.

Preparing For An Inpatient Stay

If you have to stay at the hospital overnight or longer, you will want to ask what you should, and are allowed, to bring with you. 

  • Towels and personal hygiene products such as soap will be provided at some hospitals, but you will need to bring them yourself in many cases. Definitely bring a toothbrush and toothpaste, and ask whether you require specific unscented toiletries after your surgery.
  • Some hospitals ban electronic equipment for certain departments, so check in advance and bring a good book if electronics are not allowed. 
  • Bring as many clothes as you need, including underwear, and a nightgown. Depending on the surgery, you may be completely naked in a hospital gown during the surgery, or you may be able to keep your underwear on. 
  • You may be able to bring snacks of your own, but ask about this. Ask about the meals that will be provided as well, especially if you have special dietary needs. 
  • Bring emergency contact details in case you or your medical team needs to contact your loved ones.

You won't be able to drive yourself home after a surgical procedure, and your facility will require that someone comes to pick you up. 

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