Surgery is complicated enough, and as a patient there are steps you can take to help it go smoothly and help you heal more quickly. It’s important to take some precautionary measures before “going under the knife.” It’s also hard not to feel helpless when going into surgery, so following these steps can give you some sense of control.
Eat Well and Exercise
It’s important to be as healthy as possible before going into surgery. The healthier you are, the easier it is for you body to recover. Diets rich in nutrients, especially protein, help prepare your body for quick healing. Exercise makes your body fit. If you already exercise, keep up the good work. If not, try slowly introducing it into your daily routine, but always consult your doctor before starting any exercise regimen. Keep in mind, exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial.
It has been proven that smokers heal slower after surgery and may require a ventilator for longer periods of time. This is just another indication that it’s better to go into surgery as healthy as possible. Plus, it’s just better in the long run for your overall health.
Meet With Your Surgeon and Anesthesiologist
Meet with your surgeon several weeks before your surgery. Tell your surgeon about any medications you’re taking. Discuss the procedure, and ask about their experience with that procedure. If your procedure involves an implant (screws, plates, etc.), ask for a card with the name of the manufacturer and serial number. Keep the card in your wallet in case anything ever happens, this way other physicians are aware of your procedure. Tell your anesthesiologist about any medication allergies, and ask about the kind of anesthesia to be administered and what the risks are. Finally, ask about the recovery process and post-op medications.
Get Your Finances In Order
Make sure to handle the financial aspect of surgery before going into it. Find out what your operation will cost and call your health insurance provider to discuss your level of coverage. If your insurance provider does not cover the entire cost of your surgery, ask about payment plans for remaining balance. Keep in mind there will be additional costs, like prescription medications and follow-up visits. You should also figure out how much time you will need to take off from work and talk to your employer. Finances can be stressful by themselves, so try not to compound that with recovery.
Mark Your Surgery Site
Although it’s rare, sometimes surgeons make a mistake and operate on the wrong part of the body. In the presence of a nurse or doctor, mark your surgery site with an indelible pen. Do this before anesthesia and before going into the operating room. Do not mark non-operative sites.
Note Any Health Changes
Notify your doctor if you’ve experienced any health changes before your scheduled procedure. This includes fevers, colds, flu symptoms, etc. It’s important that your doctor know the full extent of your health conditions before going into surgery.
Arrange For Transportation
Some patients will require more assistance after their surgery than others. Driving is unsafe after anesthesia, it affects your ability to drive and make decisions quickly. Make sure you have a family member or friend pick you up from the hospital, or arrange for other transportation.
Prepare for discharge
This includes preparing your home and making sure you know about all your post-op medications. If your recovery lasts more than a few days you might want to arrange for help around the house. And talk to your doctor about all your medications, their side effects, and the proper dosage.
Last updated 7/5/2015