How to Prepare for Surgery as a Patient

Facing surgery can be a nerve-wracking experience, but proper preparation can make the process smoother and less stressful. Whether you’re having a minor procedure or a major surgery, taking steps to prepare yourself beforehand is essential. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the key steps of pre-surgery preparation to ensure you’re ready for the big day.

Consult with Your Surgeon

Every surgery is unique, and your surgeon will provide specific instructions tailored to your procedure. No internet article can substitute for professional advice from the person who will actually be performing the surgery, so DO NOT skip this step! 

Be sure to schedule a consultation well in advance to ask questions and seek clarification on any concerns you may have. Understanding the details of your surgery and what’s expected of you is the foundation of successful prep.

Prepare a list of questions to ask your surgeon, such as:

  • What is the purpose of the surgery?
  • What are the potential risks and complications?
  • What is the expected duration of the surgery and recovery time?
  • What should you expect on the day of the surgery?

Manage Your Nutrition

In the weeks leading up to the surgery, focus on a healthy diet. Aim for non-processed foods, rich in nutrients, and avoid foods high in added sugars, especially 24 hours before surgery. Proper nutrition can help your body better handle the stress of surgery and promote a faster recovery.

Follow these general guidelines to prepare your body:

  • Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables for essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Include lean protein sources like chicken, fish, and tofu to aid in tissue repair.
  • Incorporate whole grains for sustained energy.

Keep Hydrated

Hydration is essential for your well-being and recovery. In the days before surgery, drink plenty of water. However, follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding when to stop drinking, as it may be necessary to do so a certain number of hours before the procedure. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you and potentially interfere with the anesthesia.

Staying adequately hydrated is crucial. Consider these hydration tips:

  • Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily.
  • Keep a reusable water bottle with you to track your water intake.
  • Follow your surgeon’s specific recommendations regarding fluid intake before surgery.

Review Your Medications

Discuss your current medications with your surgeon. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as vitamins, supplements, and herbs. Ensure that your surgeon is aware of all the medications you’re taking, as they can affect the surgery and anesthesia. Some medications may need to be temporarily stopped in the days or hours leading up to surgery, while others may be safe to continue. Your surgeon will provide guidance on what’s best for your situation.

Prepare a detailed list of all medications, including:

  • Name of the medication
  • Dosage
  • Frequency
  • Reason for taking it
  • Any known allergies or adverse reactions

Ensure Cleanliness and Disinfection

Skin bacteria is the most common cause of post-operative surgical wound infections. In the days before surgery, be sure to bathe thoroughly. Consider using a trusted antiseptic skin cleanser like CliniClean to ensure your skin is clean and disinfected. CliniClean is an ideal option because it contains 4% chlorhexidine gluconate – the most effective disinfectant safe for use on the body – yet is quite gentle on the skin. It contains no dyes or fragrances and is non-toxic.

Maintaining proper pre-surgical hygiene is crucial to reduce the risk of infection. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Use a mild, fragrance-free soap to cleanse your entire body, paying special attention to the surgical site.
  • Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue.
  • Follow with an antiseptic skin cleanser like CliniClean, applying it as directed by your surgeon.
  • Ensure you follow any specific instructions provided by your healthcare team to minimize the risk of infection.

Bring Helpful Items with You on the Day of Surgery

On the day of surgery, it’s essential to come preparedPreparing a hospital bag in advance can help alleviate stress. Consider packing:

  • Loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that doesn’t need to be pulled over your head.
  • Your social security number, health insurance card, and any necessary identification.
  • A list of emergency contacts.
  • Comfort items such as a book or music to help pass the time during recovery.

You should leave valuable items and jewelry at home to ensure their safety. Additionally, avoid wearing nail polish, makeup or any other cosmetic products, as they can interfere with monitoring devices and anesthesia.

Remember Your Resources

Remember, every surgery is unique, so always rely on the guidance and instructions provided by your surgeon and medical team to tailor your preparation accordingly. Your commitment to pre-surgery preparation will help ensure a smoother recovery and a faster return to a healthy, active life.

If you need additional advice about products that can help achieve this, contact Medical Monks’ product experts Monday-Friday EST. 

ADAM PAGE is Medical Monks' digital marketing coordinator. He has taken on a variety of roles since joining the organization in 2017, including customer service agent, product specialist and blog editor. He currently oversees all the Monks' digital resources and communications, including email, blogs, video and social media.

Edited for medical accuracy by Kristin Arrango, BSN, RN

Related Videos

More Blogs

Top Skin Care Products