Five tips to prepare for surgery

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Whether it’s your first time or you’ve been through it before, getting surgery can be nerve-wracking. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare can help reduce stress and set you up for a better outcome.

Whether it’s your first time or you’ve been through it before, getting surgery can be nerve-wracking. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare can help reduce stress and set you up for a better outcome.

“We do our best to optimize the experience for all patients undergoing surgery so they have the best possible chance for a successful recovery,” explains Dr. Eric Orr, a general surgeon affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital. “When they have a clear understanding of the process and how it will affect them, patients are better equipped to actively and intelligently participate in their care.”

Taking a few smart steps before surgery can help avoid complications and provide a sense of relief, enabling you to go into the procedure with minimal stress.

Dr. Orr offers the following five tips to help you prepare:

1.        Ask questions and get informed.
Learn about the procedure, expected outcomes and risks. Talk to your doctor and ask questions prior to surgery to set your mind at ease. “It is very important to spend time discussing concerns with each patient undergoing surgery so we are on the same page,” according to Dr. Orr. “The goal is always an excellent outcome and a happy, healthy patient.”

2. Follow pre-surgery preparation instructions.
Your doctor will provide you with pre-surgery instructions to follow in the days leading up to your procedure. Typically, you’ll be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night prior. Your doctor may also instruct you to use antimicrobial soap the night before and day of surgery to disinfect the skin and reduce the chance of infection. If you take any medications, ask your doctor whether you should continue to take your normal dosage before surgery.  

3. Make healthy choices.
The stronger and healthier you are, the better you’ll handle the physical stress of surgery. Therefore, it’s a good idea to practice healthy habits leading up to your procedure. Eat a balanced and nutritious diet, exercise, stop smoking and get enough sleep. 

4. Choose an advocate or care partner.
A care partner is a family member or close friend chosen by a patient to be their support system and an active member of their health care team. Select someone who knows you and knows what to expect following the procedure. Arrange for this person to be informed of your progress during and after surgery. Once you go home, have that person or someone else watch over you until you are comfortable on your own. 

5. Practice relaxation techniques.
Meditation and yoga have been shown to help people remain calm, present and mindful in the face of pain or challenging situations like surgery. A consistent practice leads to lasting results, reducing stress, and providing a variety of physical benefits.

This article features experts from Sharp Grossmont Hospital. For more health stories visit www.sharp.com/news.

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