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Preparing for Surgery

The healthier you are prior to surgery, the greater your chances of a smooth and rapid recovery. Here are some things you can start doing to get healthy and stay healthy — way in advance of your surgery!

Weeks Before Surgery

Update Your Physical and Family Heath History

Your surgeon may require that you undergo a history and physical with your primary care physician (PCP) within 30 days of your date of surgery. If so, your PCP will provide the relevant documentation to your surgeon.

Quit Smoking

Oxygen is necessary for wound healing. Not only does smoking reduce your blood oxygen levels, but so does surgery! Even in non-smokers, the use of anesthetics and the surgery itself temporarily slow circulation. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends quitting smoking at least 30 days prior to surgery to lower the risk of complications.

Schedule Vaccinations

Be sure to get your pneumonia and flu shots at least two weeks prior to your surgery to lower your risk of infection while in the hospital.

Avoid Alcohol

If you think you may be drinking too much, talk to your physician. Alcohol withdrawal can make you quite ill. If you have a problem with alcohol, let your doctor or nurse know. Medication may be prescribed to prevent alcohol withdrawal while you are hospitalized.

Avoid Dental & Invasive Procedures

We recommend you not schedule any dental work less than three months prior to surgery. Discuss any planned dental work or other invasive procedures with your surgeon in advance of your surgery.

Review Medication

Your consulting physicians and surgeon will review your medication to determine your pre-op surgery instructions and medication regimen. At least ten days before surgery, tell your surgeon about any anti-inflammatory and blood thinners you may be taking, including aspirin, Coumadin, Lovenox, Motrin, Advil, Naprosyn, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.

Eat Well

Be sure to maintain a healthy diet in the months and weeks prior to surgery. Eat plenty of protein, high-fiber carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. It’s a good idea to eliminate or at least reduce your alcohol consumption prior to surgery. Be sure to check with your surgeon regarding any dietary restrictions the day before or morning of your procedure.


Keep exercising as usual in the weeks before surgery to ensure good muscle strength.

Days Before Surgery

Line Up Your Support

You will need someone to drive you and pick you up. You may also want a spouse, partner, friend, or other support person by your side before your procedure, to help you relax. Pre-arrange for help from family, friends, neighbors. Hired private home help is usually not covered by insurance, but may be necessary if you do not have friends or family nearby.

Prepare Your Home for Your Safe Return

Stock your refrigerator with foods that are healthy and easy to prepare. Change your bedding before you leave for the hospital, so you have clean sheets to sleep in when you get home.

The Night Before Surgery

Do not eat or drink ANYTHING after midnight – including gum and mints. If your physician instructs you to take certain medications the morning of surgery, take them with just one sip of water.

Cleansing Instructions

Shower using the antibacterial chlorhexidine soap, both the night before and the morning of your surgery. Soap is not enough: Chlorhexidine disinfects the skin by disrupting the cell membranes of bacteria. Do not shave the area near and around your surgical for 48 hours prior to your surgery. Follow any other detailed instructions given to you by the pre-registration RN or surgeon on how to properly cleanse the area.

Clothing & Linens

After your morning shower, put on loose, clean, comfortable clothes with an elastic waistband. Do not wear jewelry, makeup, body lotion or perfumes.

What to Bring to the Hospital

  • Cell phone and charger
  • List of all current medications
  • Driver’s license/photo ID
  • Insurance information
  • Any forms your surgeon’s office gave you to fill out
  • Personal toiletries
  • Contact information for your primary care physicians and any specialists you see
  • CPAP machine, hearing aids, inhaler, and/or eye drops, if routinely used

Please do not bring any valuables. Leave jewelry, money, credit cards and all other valuables at home.

Pre-operative Interview, Safety, and Site Initialing

The morning of your surgery, you will be introduced to the OR nurse who will be responsible for your care while you are in the operating room. You will also meet your anesthesiologist who will review the medications and procedures to be used during surgery. When we take you in to the OR, your support person will be directed to the surgical waiting area or asked to provide a phone number for the surgeon to contact them after your procedure. If they choose to wait, the surgeon will meet with them after the procedure to let them know how you are doing.