Preparing For Surgery

Preparing for Your Operation

Knowing what to expect before and after surgery and what questions to ask will help you feel less anxious about your operation. Being well prepared increases the likelihood of a successful surgery, and will help you heal more quickly.

Most often you will take your morning medication with a sip of water. If you are taking blood thinners (Plavix, Coumadin, Aspirin), you will stop taking these one week prior to your surgery.

If you smoke, try to stop smoking before your operation. General anesthesia affects the normal function of your lungs. Any period of not smoking helps. It is best if you quit at least 2 weeks before surgery. If you cannot quit, even slowing down helps. Quitting smoking before surgery lowers the risks of anesthesia, decreases the risk of post-operative pneumonia, and helps with wound healing.

If you have diabetes, maintaining good control of your glucose levels before surgery may improve wound healing.

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The Day of Your Operation

Don’t eat or drink

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight of the night prior to your surgery. This reduces your risk of complications from anesthesia.

What to bring

  • Insurance card and identification
  • Personal items such as eyeglasses and dentures
  • Loose-fitting comfortable clothes
  • Leave jewelry and valuables at home

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Wound Care

  • Do not soak in a bathtub until your stitches, steri-strips, or staples are removed. You may take a shower 24 hours after your surgery unless you are told not to.
  • Follow the postoperative instructions on when to change your bandages.
  • A small amount of drainage from the incision is normal. If the drainage is thick and yellow or the site is red, you may have an infection so call the office.
  • Surgical skin staples, will be removed during your first office visit.
  • Steri-strips will fall off in 10 days or they will be removed during your first office visit.
  • Your scar will heal in about 4 to 6 weeks and will become softer and continue to fade over the next year.
  • Keep the wound site out of the sun or use sunscreen.
  • Sensation around your incision will return in a few weeks or months.
  • Avoid wearing tight or rough clothing. It may rub your incisions and make it harder for them to heal.
  • Protect the new skin, especially from the sun. The sun can burn and cause darker scarring.

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The amount of post-operative pain is different for each person. Some people need only 2 to 3 doses of pain control medication, while others use narcotics for a full week.

Non-Medicine Pain Control

  • Distraction helps you focus on other activities instead of your pain. Music, games, and other engaging activities are especially helpful with children in mild pain.
  • Splinting your stomach by placing a pillow over your abdomen with firm pressure before coughing or movement can help reduce the pain.
  • Guided imagery helps you direct and control your emotions. Close your eyes and gently inhale and exhale. Picture yourself in the center of somewhere beautiful. Feel the beauty surrounding you and your emotions coming back to your control. You should feel calmer.

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Your Recovery and Discharge

Thinking Clearly
The anesthesia may cause you to feel different for 2 or 3 days. Do not drive, drink alcohol, or make any big decisions for at least 2 days.
When you wake up you will be able to drink small amounts of liquids. If you are not nauseous, you can begin eating regular foods. Continue to drink lots of fluids, usually about 8 to 10 glasses per day.
Bowel Movements

  • After intestinal surgery, you may have loose watery stools for several days.
  • Pain medication (narcotics) can cause constipation. Increase the fiber in your diet with high-fiber foods if you are constipated. You may also take a stool softener.

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Activity & Work


  • Slowly increase your activity.
  • Do not lift or participate in strenuous activity for 2 weeks.
  • Avoid driving until your pain is under control without narcotics.
  • You can have sex when you feel ready, usually after your sutures or staples are removed.
  • It is normal to feel tired. You may need more sleep than usual.


You can go back to work when you feel well enough. The timing will be discussed at your first postoperative visit.

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