You have spent weeks going to appointments, preparing your home, and getting healthy before surgery. Now it is time for surgery. You may feel relieved or nervous to be at this point.
However, taking care of a few last-minute details can help make your surgery more successful. Depending on the type of surgery you are having, you may be asked to follow further advice.
Two weeks before surgery you may have been told to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and other drugs.
You should take only the medicines your doctor told you to take before surgery. This includes prescription medicines. If you are confused about which medicines to take the night before or the day of surgery, call your doctor.
Do not take any supplements, herbs, vitamins, or minerals before surgery unless your doctor said it was okay.
Bring a list of all your medicines to the hospital. Include the ones that you were told to stop taking before surgery. Make sure you write down the dosage and how often you take them.
Washing Your Skin
You may take a shower or bath both the night before and the morning of surgery.
Your doctor or nurse may give you a special medicated soap to use. Look for instructions for how to use this soap. If no one gave you special soap, use Dial or another antibacterial soap you can buy at the store.
It is important that you do not shave before you have surgery. The doctors or nurses will do that at the hospital.
Scrub your nails with a brush. Remove nail polish and makeup before you go to the hospital.
Eating and Drinking Before Surgery
Most of the time, you will be asked not to eat or drink after midnight. This usually means avoiding both solid foods and liquids.
You may brush your teeth and rinse your mouth in the morning. If you were told to take any medicine on the morning of surgery, you may take them with a sip of water.
Symptoms to Report
Rarely, you may have symptoms that your surgeon needs to know beforehand.
Any new skin rashes or skin infections (including herpes)
Cold symptoms or cough
Chest pain or shortness of breath
What Should You Pack
Flat walking shoes with rubber or crepe on the bottom
Shorts or sweatpants and a T-shirt
Lightweight bath robe
Clothes to wear when you go home (sweatsuit or something easy to put on and take off)
You should bring your crutches, cane, or walker to the hospital.
Personal care items:
Bring eyeglasses instead of contact lenses if at all possible.
Bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant.
Bring a razor (electric only).
Other items may include:
A small amount of money
Important telephone numbers of friends and relatives
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.