What to Expect Before and After Surgery

American doctor talking to businesswoman patient

Although a surgery may last only a few hours – or even just a matter of minutes in some cases – preparing for a surgery and recuperating from it afterward usually takes more time.

Taking these steps can help you get the best results from your surgery (though if you’re planning to have surgery, your doctor should give you specific advice to follow for your individual needs).

Before surgery

Tell the doctor your story. It’s important that you tell your surgeon about all the medications, supplements, and herbs you’re taking. These may affect the outcome of the surgery, such as drugs that make you bleed more. In some cases, the surgeon may recommend that you stop taking certain drugs before the surgery. Tell the doctor about your history of health problems, including allergies and any previous complications you’ve had with anesthesia. [1]

Learn about the surgery. The surgeon should discuss the possible risks involved, which may include risks from anesthesia , infections, and excessive bleeding. Expect to sign a form that says you understand the problems that may arise related to the surgery. [1]

The surgeon should also talk with you about how the surgery is performed, how it will affect your health, and how you’ll likely feel afterward. [2]

Get your body ready for the surgery. If you smoke, it’s a good idea to stop smoking at least two weeks before the surgery. This can help reduce your chances of complications. You will probably need to avoid eating and drinking after midnight before the next day’s surgery. Your surgeon should tell you any other steps you need to take to prepare for the surgery. [3]

After the surgery

Recovering from the procedure. After the surgery, you’ll be taken to a recovery area where a nurse or other medical staff members will watch you to make sure you’re coming out of the surgery properly. You may need to stay one or more nights in the hospital, but in many cases people can go home from a surgery center the same day. [1,2]

Follow the directions. The hospital staff will likely provide you with directions to help you recover further at home. Be sure to follow these instructions carefully. If you don’t understand any directions, ask about them before you leave the hospital. [1]

Have help. An adult should drive you home from the hospital and stay with you for at least 24 hours afterward to help you recover. [2]

Report your symptoms. The hospital staff should give you a phone number to call if you notice certain symptoms after the surgery. In general, these include excessive bleeding; fever; fainting; and pus, redness, or a bad smell around the surgical site. [1]

Keep your additional appointments. Your surgeon may want to see you shortly after the procedure to make sure you’re healing properly. You may also need to keep appointments with other providers, such as physical therapists.

To learn more about the surgeons at Los Robles and the cutting-edge treatments they deliver, contact Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center at (805) 497-2727.