What to Expect on the Day of Surgery

Check In DeskWhat do I expect the day of surgery?
It is normal to be nervous as the day of your surgery gets closer. It is important that you understand the procedures involved in your stay to make your recovery safe and as speedy as possible. Please keep in mind that the surgical treatment of each person is different. Although you may be having the same operation as someone else, the way you will need to prepare and the things that will need to be done before, during, and after surgery may be special for you.

If you get a cough, cold, flu-like symptoms, fever or any strange symptoms before your surgery, let your doctor know right away. On the day of surgery, you will meet with the team involved in your surgery. This may include your surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist, preop holding nurse, operating room nurse, postanesthesia care nurse and 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. This may seem strict, not being able to have a sip of water or coffee, but this decreases the risk for 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 medicine the day of surgery, take them with just a small sip of water.
  • Stop smoking for at least twenty-four (24) hours before surgery.
  • Do not drink alcohol for at least twenty-four (24) hours before surgery.
  • Do not chew gum on the day of surgery.
  • Bathe or shower the day of surgery. Do not wear makeup, lotion, powder, deodorant or nail polish. It is important to remove your nail polish so that the doctors and nurses can see your true color during the surgery and in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit. The color of the skin and nail beds is an important sign of blood circulation.
  • 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 piercing (including tongue piercing), or bring money or valuables with you. Rings may be cut off, if unable to remove 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 or a cane if you use one, to have ready if you will need them after surgery.
  • Patients returning home following their surgery must be driven home by a responsible adult. You may be asked to provide the driver’s name and phone number.

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

  • Bring a list of all the medicines you are taking, the reason you are taking it, the dose you take and how often you take it. Include  prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal remedies (visit www.asahq.org for additional information on herbal remedies), 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 your surgery to avoid the possibility of unwanted interactions and side effects. This information will help your anesthesia provider to select the best drugs for you to avoid the unwanted drug interactions. It is important that you also bring a list of any known food or drugs to which you are allergic.
  • You will be asked to give a detailed health history and family history. This will include any problems with anesthesia and allergies.
  • This information is important for your safety.,If you do not follow instructions about not eating or drinking before your surgery, your surgery may be delayed or even cancelled.

Reprinted with permission by the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (ASPAN).
Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved. ASPAN Patient Information. Available at: www.aspan.org