Getting Set for Surgery
Millions of Americans undergo surgery each year. Facing surgery -- even the smallest operation -- can be stressful and frightening. But planning ahead can help relieve your anxieties, reduce complications and pain and speed your return to normal activities.
"No one looks forward to having surgery, but they do see it as a necessary step to treating their illness or condition," said Louis Ruvolo, M.D., a surgeon on staff at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County. "Even with today's advances, surgery is still a major undertaking, and patients need to be fully informed about what to expect."
Prepare in Advance
Before you head to the hospital, follow these tips:
- Help your body get ready. In the days before your surgery, be sure to eat right and get plenty of sleep. Stop smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
- Plan for your at-home recovery period. You may want to prepare some meals in advance or enlist the help of friends or family.
- Let your doctor know if any changes in your health occur before surgery -- even if it's just a cold.
- Talk with your doctor beforehand about how to handle any pain you may experience. Learn about anesthesia options.
- Do your homework. Make sure you understand the informed consent form you will be asked to sign.
Questions to Ask
Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have. For example:
- Should you avoid certain foods or medications? In some cases, common over-the-counter products like aspirin, vitamins or herbal supplements can be dangerous before surgery. Others may interact with prescription medicines.
- Should you stop taking current medications? When?
- Should you donate your own blood beforehand?
- Will you need someone to drive you home?
- How long will recovery take?
- Will you need home care or special supplies?
- Will you have any disabilities or restrictions after the procedure?
Following these steps can help relieve your anxiety before you undergo surgery.