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5 Ways for Patients to Prepare for General Surgery

An image of a surgeon trying a mask around their face, facing a fluorescent light, her back facing the camera for a blog post on ways to prepare for general surgery

5 Ways for Patients to Prepare for General Surgery

Many patients have questions and concerns about undergoing general surgery these days. Sometimes, this is the best treatment method for resolving a specific healthcare issue. There are some smart and simple ways to be better informed and prepared for your upcoming surgery. Surgeons highly recommend these top five tips for patients on preparing for general surgery.

1. Questions to Ask at Your Surgical Consultation Appointment
Before arriving at your appointment with your chosen surgeon, take some time to write down some specific questions and make a list of critical healthcare information that your surgeon will want to know.Some key things to consider include:

  • Why do I need this surgery?
  • Are there any other treatment options?
  • What are the risks of this procedure?
  • What type of anesthesia will be used?
  • How is the surgery performed?
  • What should I expect during recovery?
  • Are the results of the surgery permanent?
  • Cost of surgery and health insurance coverage details

Patients may also want to inquire whether a second opinion is recommended and whether a physical is required from their family doctor before surgery.

2. What to Tell Your Surgeon Before General Surgery
Your surgeon will want to know some specific details about your overall past and current healthcare condition. This information should include your personal and family history, which lists conditions like diabetes, heart disease, circulation problems, and more. Your surgeon should also be informed of certain lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, diet, and usual physical activity amount or limits. Patients should be sure to include the following information:

  • List of allergies
  • Current list of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications used
  • All pertinent healthcare information, including any disabilities
  • Whether you smoke or drink alcohol
  • Any past anesthesia problems
  • Past surgeries plus details like scarring or abdominal adhesions
  • Any implants or medical devices present, like metal plates, dental crowns, and so forth
  • Current healthcare insurance coverage documentation

Being fully honest with your surgeon and other healthcare providers is crucial. There are serious risks that may apply, and not being entirely forthcoming beforehand could put your health at significant risk.

3. How to Get Ready for Your Surgery
Typically, your surgeon and the hospital where your surgery will be performed will give you a list or call with pertinent preoperative instructions. This type of preparation may include:

  • Bloodwork and other tests are needed before surgery
  • Avoidance of food and drink generally at least 8 hours before surgery
  • Bowel or other preps necessary before the procedure
  • What medications to take or stop before surgery
  • Time and place of surgery
  • Whether a hospital stay is needed
  • Things to bring to the hospital with you

Always discuss whether any of your usual medications will need to be stopped or otherwise altered before your surgery. Some hospitals require patients to bring their medicines with them. Remember to inform medical professionals of any supplements and other substances typically bought over the counter. Many herbs, vitamins, and other items can interfere with blood clotting, along with drugs and anesthesia commonly used during surgeries. Dress comfortably and expect to change into a hospital gown when you arrive at the surgical center. Some operations require shaving and skin prep at the intended surgical site.

Do not take valuables to the hospital, as your items will be moved around and could get lost. If needed, ask to place anything valuable in the safe. Cell phones may need to be off in specific hospital departments due to medical equipment interference. Do not chew gum, eat, or drink before surgery as directed. Doing so can cause saliva and digestive juices to be vomited, which could lead to respiratory complications like pneumonia.

4. Know What to Expect After Surgery & During Recovery
The type and length of your recovery will differ depending on your surgery, the type of incision used, and the type of anesthesia. Your surgeon should give you a list with postoperative instructions and expectations prior to your surgery. To be best prepared, ask at your consultation appointment whether you will need to take time off from work or other physical activities and for how long.

Patients may have dressings that must be changed or kept dry following the surgery. It is essential to follow these instructions exactly to avoid complications like postoperative infections. Your surgeon should give you a list of signs and symptoms to look for. These include fever, redness, and swelling at the surgical site, discomfort over the amount typically expected, changes in mental status, vomiting, numbness, change in breathing, or problems with balance. Immediately call your surgeon and/or family doctor if serious problems arise.

5. Why Keeping Your Postoperative Appointment Is Important
It is crucial to keep your follow-up appointments with your surgeon. The surgeon will check your recovery process, change your dressings, or determine if you are healing as you should be. Ready to embark on your surgical journey with confidence? Our team at Elite Surgical Miami is here to support you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and experience personalized care from our expert surgeons. Your health and well-being are our top priorities. Reach out now, and let’s start your path to a healthier tomorrow!

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