What to Expect on the Day of Surgery
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What to Expect on the Day of Surgery

What do I expect the day of surgery?

It is normal to be nervous as the day of surgery gets closer. It is very important that you understand the procedure that you are having done to ensure your recovery is as safe and fast as possible. Please remember that surgical treatments and procedures are different for each person. Although you may be having the same procedure as someone else, the way you will need to prepare and the things that are done before, during and after your surgery may be special to you.

If you get a cough, cold, flu-like symptoms, fever or any other strange symptoms before your procedure, let your doctor know right away.

On the day of surgery, you will meet all the members of your surgical team. This may include:

  • Your surgeon
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Preop holding nurse
  • Operating room nurse
  • Postanesthesia care nurse
  • Various other healthcare professionals

How do I prepare for my surgery?

  • As a general rule, you should not eat or drink anything after midnight before surgery. In some cases, you may be allowed to drink clear liquids up to a few hours before your anesthesia. Not being able to have a sip of water or coffee may seem strict, but this decreases the risk of problems such as vomiting during surgery.
  • You may brush your teeth and rinse your mouth with a small sip of water, but do not swallow any of it.
  • If you have been told to take medications the day of surgery, take them with just a small sip of water.
  • Do not chew gum on the day of surgery.
  • Stop smoking for at least twenty-four (24) hours before surgery.
  • Do not drink alcohol for at least twenty-four (24) hours before surgery.
  • Bathe or shower the day of surgery. Do not wear makeup, lotion, powder, or deodorant.
  • Clothing should be loose fitting, comfortable and appropriate for wearing after the procedure you will be having. Do not wear jewelry, including wedding rings and body piercings (including tongue piercing), or bring money or things that are important to you. Rings may be cut off if unable to be removed to lower the risk of problems such as swelling during surgery.
  • No hairspray or hairpins should be worn.
  • You may be asked to remove your glasses, contacts, hearing aids and dentures. Please bring your eyewear case, your hearing aid case and/or a denture cup.
  • If you have a C-Pap or Bi-Pap machine ask if you should bring it the day of surgery.
  • Bring items such as:
    • your inhaler if you have asthma
    • cane if you use one
    • crutches if needed post-op
  • Patients returning home following their surgery must be driven home by a responsible adult.

If I did not receive a preanesthetic interview or testing, what important things do I need to pay attention to or bring on the day of surgery?

  • Bring a list of medications you are taking; be sure you know the dose and time you take them. Include prescriptions, over the counter medications, vitamins, herbals, recreational drugs, tobacco and alcohol. The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) recommends that everyone stop herbal medicines at least two (2) to three (3) weeks before surgery to avoid the possibility of unwanted interactions and side effects. This information will help your anesthesia provider to select the best medication for you to avoid any unwanted drug interactions. (Visit www.asahq.org for additional resources on herbals.)
  • It is important that you also bring a list of any food or drug allergies you have.
  • You will be asked to give information on your health history as well as your family’s health. This will include any problems with anesthesia or allergies.
  • This information is very important for your safety. If you do not follow the instructions about not eating or drinking before your surgery, your surgery may be delayed or even canceled.


page updated 07/2015
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