Preparing for Surgery
This information has been designed to give you a basic understanding of the considerations that need to be made when preparing for surgery. Please keep in mind that this material is a reference only and your personal preparation may differ from that described.
Once you have decided to have surgery, preparing mentally and physically for surgery is an important step towards a successful result. Understanding the process and your role in it, will help you recover quickly and have fewer problems
Working with Dr Chung, your GP and your Anaesthetist
- Bring a list of your medications to the consultation
- Unless you have been given specific instructions regarding your medications (specifically blood thinners, diabetic medications etc) please take your usual medications at the usual dose.
- For patients with diabetes, your anaesthetist will discuss with you before the procedure any adjustments to your insulin and diabetic tablets.
Blood thinning medications
- Please discuss any blood thinning medications you are using with Dr Chung.
- Typical examples include Warfarin, clopidogrel (Plavix, Iscover), aspirin (Cartia), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS - Nurofen, Mobic), dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto) & Clexane
- Some over-the-counter medications, health supplements including fish oil, garlic may also increase the risk of bleeding during surgery
- For most major operations, these medications will need to be stopped prior to surgery.
- The decision on which medications to stop and when will be made in conjunction with your GP/Specialist
- It is not safe to have any food or drinks within 6 hours of an operation.
- A sip of water with your medications up to 2 hours prior to surgery is safe.
- If your surgery is planned for 7am, please do not eat or drink after 1am.
- If your surgery is planned for 1pm, please have an early breakfast and nothing to eat or drink after 7am
- Give up smoking 6 weeks before surgery to give your lungs and heart a chance to improve.
- Smoking cuts down the oxygen in your blood and increases the chance of breathing problems and wound complications during and after an operation.
- Depending on the operation, you may be discharged home with some limitations on what you can and cannot do
- Arrange for someone to help out with everyday tasks including cooking, shopping and laundry
- Put items you use often within easy reach before surgery so you don’t have to bend and reach as often
- Remove all loose carpet and tape down electrical cords to avoid falls
- Make sure you have a stable chair with a firm seat cushion, a firm back and two arms
- Report any infections to your GP and Dr Chung. Surgery cannot be performed until all infections have been treated appropriately. Rarely you may need to be admitted to hospital for intravenous antibiotics prior to surgery.
- Some blood loss during surgery is inevitable and expected. Typically volume is small and managed with intravenous fluids as needed. Rarely a blood transfusion may be required. Discuss with your surgeon the options for preparing for potential blood loss, prior to surgery.
- We do not recommend driving to your operation even if it is a day only procedure.
- Your suitability to drive after surgery is discussed in the After surgery pamphlet (Link to after surgery page)
- Eat a well balanced diet before surgery.
- Patients with head and neck cancers who have had difficulty swallowing may benefit from nutritional supplements prior to surgery
- Discuss with Dr Chung prior to surgery what the expected recovery period will be and plan accordingly with your employer. Generally speaking with the exception of minor procedures, most patients require at least 2 weeks off work. There may be restrictions particularly to heavy lifting and driving for longer periods after surgery depending on the procedure. Please confirm with both Dr Chung and your employer when you can return to work and what duties would be appropriate, prior to surgery to avoid any possible disappointments.