- Be a know it all
- X marks the surgical spot
- Ask about anesthesia options
- Don’t fear waking up
- Pain after surgery
- Fight hospital infections
- Are you at risk for blood clots
- Discuss your medical conditions
- Avoid medication mishaps
- Surprising supplement reactions
- Line up caregivers
- Don’t eat or drink before surgery
- If you smoke, stop
1. Be a know it all
Learn about your surgery and meet with your medical team. Talk to your surgeon and to the expert who manages your comfort and care during the operation, your anesthesiologist. Ask them questions about everything, from risks to healing time. Your hospital may offer classes that also can teach you about your procedure.
2. X marks the surgical spot
To prevent mistakes, your doctor or nurse may use a pen to mark the place on your body where you’re going to have surgery. Ask your surgeon if you should expect this with your operation.
3. Ask about anesthesia options
How you’ll be numbed during the operation often depends on the type of surgery you’re getting. Ask your anesthesiologist about your choices.
“Local” anesthesia numbs a small part of you,”regional” works on a larger area, and “general” affects your whole body.
You inhale some types of anesthesia, while others you get from a shot or through a vein (IV).
4. Don’t fear waking up during the surgery
Coming to while under general anesthesia can happen, but it’s rare to become fully aware. Most people that this happens to do not feel any pain. Talk with your anesthesiologist before your surgery if you have any concerns, or if you think it’s happened to you before.
5. Pain after surgery
You may feel pain, pressure, or a burning sensation where you were operated on and as you start moving. Your muscles might be sore, and your throat may be uncomfortable.
Tell your doctor if you need pain medicine while you’re in the hospital. And ask what your options are for relief when you get home. Besides medication, relaxation tapes, heat or cold therapy, or massage may also help.
6. Fight hospital infections
After surgery, keep your hands clean. And don’t be shy about making sure your doctors and nurses wash their hands or sanitize them before treating you. It can help keep you from catching infections like MRSA, a germ that’s hard to treat.
7. Are you at risk for blood clots
Some surgeries can raise your chances of getting a dangerous blood clot called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). These can travel to the lungs and block blood flow, a condition called a pulmonary embolism. This can be deadly, but quick treatment can often save your life.
Things that can raise your risk for DVT include older age, being overweight, smoking; conditions such as cancer or previous clots, and some medications.
8. Discuss your medical conditions
Tell your doctor if you have any health issues, including heart or lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, dental work, arthritis, or drug allergies.
Also tell him if you or anyone in your family has had a reaction to anesthesia.
9. Avoid medication mishaps
Tell your doctor about all the medicine you take. Some can lead to side effects during surgery.for example, blood thinners and aspirin can put you at risk for too much bleeding.
Your doctor will tell you which medications you should take before your operation and which ones to stop.
10. Surprising supplement reactions
Many supplements, such as garlic, fish oils, or vitamins may be risky to take before surgery.
For instance, some may raise the chance of heart problems or bleeding. Others may affect how long anesthesia lasts or mix badly with others medicines, causing unexpected side effects. Your doctor may tell you to stop taking them 1 or 2 weeks before your operation.
11. Line up caregivers
You may need a little help getting around after surgery, so ask your family and friends for support. As you recover, let yourself be pampered and cared for. And for the first evening, be sure there’s a responsible adult who can stay overnight with you at home.
12. Don’t eat or drink before surgery
Anesthesia can cause vomiting during or after an operation. Your body normally keeps you from inhaling food you spit up, but anesthesia can stop these reflexes from working. This can cause choking and other complications after surgery. So make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions about when to stop eating or drinking.
13. If you smoke, stop
Smoking raises your risks of infections and other surgery complications. Quitting before your operation may also help you heal more quickly.
It’s best to stop at least 2 weeks before surgery.