Preparing for Surgery
Once you and Dr. Woolf decide that surgery is the next step in your treatment, you will need to learn what to expect from the surgery and how to actively participate in the treatment plan for the best results afterward.
Preparing mentally and physically for surgery is an important step toward a successful result. Understanding the process, and your role in it, will help you recover more quickly and have fewer problems.
Working with Your Doctor
Before surgery, Dr. Woolf and his team will perform an assessment to confirm the plan of care and to make sure you don’t have any conditions that could interfere with the surgery or your outcome.
- Routine tests, such as blood tests and X-rays, may be needed and are usually performed a week or two prior to surgery.
- Discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor and your family physician to see which ones you should stop taking before surgery.
- If you are overweight, losing weight before surgery will help decrease the stress you place on your new joint or repaired body part. However, you should not try to abruptly diet during the month before your surgery. Good nutrition is essential to recovery and wound healing. Eat a well-balanced diet, supplemented by a daily multivitamin with iron.
- If you are taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications or any drugs that increase the risk of bleeding, you may need to stop taking them one week before surgery to minimize bleeding. Discuss with your surgeon.
- If you smoke, you should stop at least 2-4 weeks prior to surgery to reduce your surgery risks and improve your recovery. Smoking and the chemicals in tobacco products are clearly shown to impair healing of bone and other tissues as well as recovery in general.
- Have any existing tooth, gum, bladder or bowel problems treated before surgery to reduce the risk of infection later.
- Report any concerns about existing infections to your surgeon, well-before surgery if possible. Surgery cannot be performed until all infections have cleared up.
- Arrange for someone to help with everyday tasks like cooking, shopping, cleaning and laundry.
- Put items that you use often within easy reach before surgery, so you won’t have to reach and bend as often.
- Remove all loose carpets 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.
- Shoulder surgery patients tend to sleep better while somewhat upright. A recliner is a great option for a place to sleep in the days or weeks after shoulder surgery.
Preparing for Procedure
If you are having day surgery (outpatient), remember the following:
- Have someone available to take you home, you will not be able to drive yourself home.
- Do not drink or eat anything in the car on the trip back home.
- The combination of anesthesia, food, and car motion can quite often cause nausea or vomiting. After arriving home, wait until you are hungry before trying to eat. Begin with a light meal and try to avoid greasy food for the first 24 hours.
- Avoid drinking alcohol after surgery, especially if you are taking pain medications.
- If you had surgery on an extremity (leg, knee, hand or elbow), keep that extremity elevated and use ice as directed. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Get your ice pack or cold therapy (cryotherapy) unit ready before surgery.
- Have a plan for getting medications from your pharmacy prior to or right after surgery. Take pain medicine as directed. Often, the pain control approach will include different types of medications that address pain in different ways.
- Be ready to begin your pain regimen before you become uncomfortable, and before you are in severe pain. If you wait until the pain is severe to start the pain control pathway, you will have more difficulty in controlling the pain.