6 Tips for Preparing for Surgery

Steven Mott by Steven Mott | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 09/16/2018

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Americans undergo an average of 9.2 surgical procedures per lifetime, according to the American College of Surgeons. The chances you’ll have surgery increase with age. If you’re facing your first surgery, you may be nervous. Here are 6 tips to help you in preparing for surgery.

  1. Understand the difference of inpatient and outpatient surgery

According to Medicare.gov, you’re an inpatient when you’re formally admitted to the hospital with a doctor’s order. You’re outpatient if the doctor hasn’t written an order to admit you to the hospital as an inpatient. You can be an outpatient even if you spend the night in the hospital. Nearly two-thirds of all operations are performed in outpatient facilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outpatient surgeries could range from mole removal to knee-replacement, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Complicated surgeries like heart transplants are usually inpatient surgeries. According to U.S. National Library of Medicine, the median length of hospital stay after heart transplantation is 22.5 days.

  1. Be prepared for anesthesia

No matter your type of surgery, you are likely to experience some form of anesthesia, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Anesthesiology is dedicated to the relief of pain. There are three main categories of anesthesia. With general anesthesia you are unconscious and feel no sensations. Regional anesthesia, such as spinal anesthesia, numbs the area of the body where the surgery is taking place. You may or may not be awake with regional anesthesia. With local anesthesia, only the tissue surrounding the location of the surgery is numbed. Modern anesthesia is relatively safe, with fewer than five deaths per million people.

  1. Know what to leave at home

According to Stanford healthcare, you should not wear eye contacts during your surgery. You should also avoid wearing makeup and leave jewelry and valuables at home. Talk to medical staff about dentures or other prosthetics you may be wearing.

  1. Get healthy before your surgery

According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, you want to be as healthy as possible before a surgery. This includes eating well, getting good sleep, and quitting smoking. Smoking can cause complications following a surgery, including infections, pneumonia and heart attack. An impending surgery can be your opportunity to quit smoking for good.

  1. Understand surgical methods such as laparoscopy

Laparoscopic surgery is “minimally invasive” according to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Instead of using one large incision to enter the abdomen, the surgeon makes several small incisions called “ports.” The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas to provide a working space for the surgeon. A special camera called a laparoscope enters these ports and allows the surgeon to see inside the abdominal cavity. Laparoscopic surgery is used for gynecologic surgery, gall bladder surgery, and intestinal surgery. Laparoscopic surgery may result in less pain, shorter recovery, and less scaring than traditional surgery.

  1. Ask about you diet immediately prior to surgery

You may be asked to stop eating and drinking for a certain period of time before your surgery. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, food or liquid in your stomach might, in some rare cases, get into your lungs while you’re under anesthesia. In some cases you may not be able to eat but can drink water.

Do you have questions about Medicare coverage of different types of surgery?

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