Planning for your surgery prepares you for the operation and helps to ensure a smooth surgery and easier recovery. Here are certain pre-operative and post-operative guidelines which will help you prepare for your surgery.
When your surgeon decides that surgery is the best option to overcome pain and restore movement, you will be briefed about the procedure and can start preparing yourself for the surgery.
- Prior to surgery, you should inform your doctor about all the medications you are taking, so that your doctor can decide if any medications can interfere with the procedure and ask you to stop using them. You will be asked to stop using aspirin, inflammatory and herbal medications before surgery as they can lead to bleeding.
- You will be asked to quit smoking prior to surgery.
- Your doctor will explain all the possible risks and complications involved with the surgery.
- You may also be advised to consult your general physician to confirm on any other health conditions that may cause complications during surgery.
- Based on your medical history, ongoing medications and a physical examination, the different options for anesthesia will be explained to you.
- Your surgeon may also recommend a strengthening program, which includes exercises to improve your strength and flexibility prior to surgery to help you in your post-operative recovery.
Before you go for your surgery, it is advisable to plan for coming home from the hospital.
- Remove loose rugs and anything that can obstruct your walking path and cause falls or accidents. If necessary, you can widen the walking path to accommodate your walker or cane that you will be using during your recovery period.
- Place all items that you regularly use, such as remote controls and medications, in easy-to-reach places.
- Un-tuck your bedding so that it is easier to move in and out of bed. If your bedroom is situated in one of the higher floors, it is advisable to relocate to the lower floor to avoid climbing stairs.
- Opt to have some assistance after your surgery for a few days.
- Prepare single serving meals so that they can be quickly heated and easily cleaned.
Apart from the specific instructions given to you depending on the type of surgery you have undergone, the basic general instructions that you should follow after your surgery are as follows:
- Take pain relieving and other medications as advised. Pain relieving medication should be taken with food. After the first 48 hours of surgery, take the pain medication only when needed.
- Do not drink alcohol, drive a vehicle, operate any machinery or sign a legal document for the first 24 hours after the surgery as the effects of the sedative and/or the anesthesia administered during the surgery may last for the first 24 hours of the surgery.
- Use ice packs to control swelling. However, make sure that the ice bag does not leak into the dressing. Ice packs can be used liberally for the first 48 hours and even later, if required.
- Follow the specific restriction of activity, as advised. Remember that it is easier to prevent developing pain rather than managing it once it has already developed. Rest for a few days after the surgery and keep the operated extremity elevated, above the level of your heart, to control swelling.
- Keep the dressing clean and dry to promote wound healing.
- Try to begin physical therapy a day or two after the surgery. Exercises in the first week are usually aimed at regaining joint motion. Strengthening exercises are initiated later. Regular exercises are critical for a successful outcome.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks.
- Schedule your follow-up appointment with your doctor as advised.
Please consult your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Increased drainage from the incision
- Increased redness around the operated area
- Increased swelling that does not decrease with ice and elevation
- Foul odor
- Fever greater than 101°F
- Coldness, numbness or blanched white or bluish color of the fingers or toes
- Sudden calf pain or shortness of breath
- Chest pain