How to prepare for surgery

Posted on 14 July 2015

Going to hospital for any kind of surgical procedure can be an intimidating experience… but it doesn’t have to be! Follow these easy steps to take the worry out of your surgery.

In the days leading up to your surgery, your doctor might give you instructions on what you need to do. Depending on the kind of operation you’re going in for, these instructions might include fasting – and they’ll definitely include the recommendation to get plenty of rest! Your body will need all its strength to recover quickly. So that means no smoking or heavy drinking in the days before the surgery either.

Before you leave for hospital, make sure you’ve arranged for transport there and back. Your surgery might prevent you from driving – in which case you’ll need to make sure you have a lift.

If you doctor has instructed you to fast for a period before the operation, it’s very important that you don’t eat or drink anything – and that includes sweets, snacks and water. Depending on your surgery, you might need to have an empty tummy so that you don’t vomit while under anaesthetic.

There might be one, very small, exception to this rule – and that’s if you’re already on medication. ‘If a patient is hypertensive or has high blood pressure, some doctors might ask them to take their medication very early in the morning on the day of the op. But even then, you’ll only be allowed a sip of water to wash it down,’ says Reasha Mughoo, a nurse at Mediclinic Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal. ‘This all depends on the doctor, though, so you should always check with your doctor or surgeon first!’

You should also ask your doctor about medication like aspirin, which thins the blood and might complicate the surgery.
‘On the day of the operation we ask patients to remove their make-up, dentures, and all their jewellery,’ says Reasha. ‘That includes hairbands with any metal parts, because the metal could interfere with some of the surgical equipment.’

Finally, make sure you’ve packed pyjamas, toiletries and spare clothes. ‘The patient should have their pyjamas ready and waiting for them after the op,’ says Mughoo. ‘It helps the nurses to know where your pyjamas are or what you’d like to be dressed in while you recover from your surgery.’

If you’ve taken care of those basics, your surgery should be a lot less stressful and you’ll be able to relax and recover.

Published in Patient Stories

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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