Preparing for Surgery

It is normal to have questions about your surgery.

Before having any surgery, it is important that you clearly understand the reason for it, what is involved with the operation and what the benefits and risks might be.  You should discuss these matters with your doctor before surgery.

What happens in hospital?

Usually you will be admitted on the morning of the operation or the day before.  Blood tests may be necessary.  You will see an anaesthetist who will discuss the anaesthetic with you, or you may have been to the pre-op clinic and seen an anaesthetist there.  It may not necessarily be the same anaesthetist.  It is important that you have nothing at all to eat or drink for at least 4 hours before the operation however your normal oral medication should be taken unless you are specifically told otherwise. This will include low dose Asprin.  Medication is sometimes given before the operation to produce relaxation.

Dentures or partial plates, contact lenses, eye glasses, hearing aids, and any other prosthesis must be removed before going to surgery.  Nail polish, make up, jewellery and hair clips must also be removed.  After the operation you will wake up in the recovery ward.  For the first few hours you may need to have injections or suppositories for pain relief and you should discuss this with your doctor before surgery if you are concerned.

Post operative nausea and vomiting are common side effects of anaesthesia. You are at high risk of this if you smoke are female and have had previous postoperative nausea and vomiting. Please tell you anaesthetist. He will modify your anaesthetic to reduce the risk of this problem. It is part of your contribution to be an active partner in your recovery.

You will be encouraged to sit out of bed, exercise your legs, deep breathe and move about from quite soon after the operation.

Deep breathing 3- 4 times every hour.

  1. If you had surgery on your abdomen (stomach area) or chest, put the palms of your hands together across the incision (stitches).  Lace your fingers snugly to support your incision.  This helps you take deep breaths.  You may hold a pillow over the incision instead of your hands.
  2. Breathe in deeply through your nose and mouth. Your abdomen will rise as your lungs fill with air.
  3. Purse your lips as if you were going to whistle.  Let all the air out through your nose and mouth.
  4. Repeat the deep breathing exercise 5 times.  Cough after each group of 5 breaths.
  5. If you are unable to cough it means your pain relief is inadequate. Call the nurse and she will attend to it.

Active Body Movement Exercise.

  1. To exercise your calf muscles and feet, pull your toes up toward your knees, then point your toes toward the foot of the bed.  Do this 5 times every 2 hours.
  2. Wiggle your toes and fingers.  Move your ankles and wrists around in circles.  Do this every 2 hours.
  3. To exercise your upper legs while you are in bed, make your thigh muscles tight and press your knee into the bed.  Count to 5 and relax.  Do this 5 times every 2 hours.

Planning for Discharge.

Information on how to care for yourself at home, and your medications will be explained to you before you leave.  Before you go home, you should ask your doctor or nurse when you may do the following activities.

When may I:

  • Climb the stairs?
  • Lift?
  • Do housework?
  • Drive/ride in a car?
  • Have sex again?
  • Go back to work?
  • Mow the lawn?

You may wash and shower normally after discharge and you should not be concerned about getting a little water on the wound.

Finally, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to discuss this with your doctor.  Find out what the risks are and what benefits are expected to result.