There are approximately 50 million surgeries performed each year in the United States. These range from cosmetic and same-day surgical procedures to emergency and highly-invasive surgeries. All surgeries are not without risk. This is one reason why it’s recommended that people undergoing elective surgery do plenty of research before making a final decision.
Simple surgeries are often performed in a doctor’s office or surgical facility without incident. Prep is minimal, if any. The same holds true for those who opt for sedation dental surgery, which is when a patient is put to sleep for basic dental procedures. You can find out more here about offices that offer this service. If you know well in advance that you’re scheduled for a major surgery, you’ll need to prepare both physically and mentally.
The doctor’s office will provide you with detailed instruction on what to do in the days leading up to your procedure. But this article will also cover some of the emotional ways to prepare for an operation.
How to Prepare Physically
Any surgery, big or small, should be taken seriously, especially if you are to given anesthesia. Your doctor will give you a list of instructions prior to surgery day to help prepare your body. Here are just a few.
1. Stop Taking Certain Medications
Certain medications can put you at risk prior to surgery. Aspirin, for example, can thin a person’s blood, which can be dangerous prior to surgery. Most procedures require an incision to be made somewhere on the body. Although patients bleed normally during surgery, doctors and nurses are trained at controlling this bleeding. People taking aspirin or blood thinners are at risk of bleeding excessively during surgery. This could potentially lead to death on the operating table. Most doctors recommend stopping these types of medications between 7 and 10 days prior to surgery.
Doctors and surgeons want your stomach empty prior to surgery. When your body is under general anesthesia, your body’ natural reflexes are temporarily disabled. That means you may inadvertently vomit or regurgitate food or drink up into your throat. This can cause complications including choking. You may be asked to stop eating 8 to 12 hours before your scheduled surgery. If you’re undergoing a colonoscopy or endoscopy, you need to follow a special, clear liquid diet the entire day prior to surgery.
3. Gather Your Supplies
Depending on the type of surgery you’re having, you may need to gather some supplies to aid in your recovery. Prepare any gauze, medications, or medical equipment you need beforehand. This may include crutches, a walker, cane, or wheelchair. Make sure you have a family member or friend available to drive you to and from your appointment. Most facilities won’t perform the procedure until they’ve met the party responsible for safely transporting you back and forth.
How to Prepare Mentally
Although it’s your physical body that’s undergoing surgery, the process isn’t without mental and emotional stress. The more mentally prepared you are before your procedure, the faster your recovery will be.
1. Do Your Research
The more you know about the surgery you’re having, the less uncertainties you’ll have. No one likes surprises when it comes to their health. But doing proper research beforehand is key. Don’t simply run a Google search on your upcoming procedure and read people’s personal blogs or stories. Everyone’s experience is unique and different. Only reference medical journals or trusted experts. If it helps you feel prepared, research the potential risks and side-effects of the type of surgery you’re having. For some people, ignorance is bliss. If knowing this information will only cause you additional stress, skip it and trust in your doctors and the surgical team.
2. Ask Questions
If you’re not comfortable turning to the internet for your information or are seeking clarification, be sure to ask your physician, surgeon, and the anesthesiologist any questions or concerns you have prior to surgery day. The more relaxed you are beforehand, the more stable your heart rate and oxygen levels will be during the procedure. You can ask things like:
- How long will the surgery take?
- How long will I be in recovery?
- What risks are there?
- What are potential side-effects?
While doctors can (and will) answer your questions as best as they can, every patient is different. No doctor can predict exactly how your body will react to a specific procedure but they can offer advice and guidance based on past experience.
3. Stay Positive
In many ways, preparing for surgery is about mind over matter. Keeping a positive mind frame can do wonders for your surgery and recovery. When you adopt a negative, pessimistic attitude, it affects everything around you. In fact, some people believe that the power of positivity is so great that it can actually improve or decline your health. It’s believed that those patients who keep a more positive mindframe may actually have a faster recovery with better results.
4. Do Something That Relaxes You
The best way to mentally prepare for surgery is to relax yourself — both body and mind. You know yourself best. What works well for you in times of stress? For some people, it’s meditation or mindfulness practices which include clearing your mind and breathing deeply. Yoga is another great way to mentally and physically prepare for a stressful event like surgery. Listening to music, journaling, and surrounding yourself with positive, encouraging people can do wonders for your mental state as well.
5. Think of the Positive Results
The idea of surgery may be unpleasant, but when you stop and think about the reasons you need the surgery and how your life will improve afterward, it can help you accept your reality. Most surgeries are performed to fix a specific issue, whether it’s clogged arteries around the heart, tumor removal, or cataract surgery. While the process itself and recovery may be difficult, once you’re fully recovered, you’ll be thankful you did it. You’ll experience improved health, mobility, and quality of life. Keeping these thoughts in the forefront of your mind can help you prepare mentally for surgery day.
Other than cosmetic surgery, most procedures are not elective. You likely need it to correct a major medical issue. And while you may fear surgery, there are ways to mentally and physically prepare for it. Being in the right mindframe and following doctor’s orders put you in a great place for a speedy recovery.
Article Submitted By Community Writer