prepare for elective surgery

How to prepare for elective surgery


If you were planning on running a 5K race, you wouldn’t just show up on the day of the race without preparing. You would train ahead of time so you knew you could finish the race. When you have a surgery, you put your body under a stress—not so much different than a race—so it’s also good to prepare.

Certain hospitals have started programs to do just that. They instruct patients who have surgery scheduled to do some mental and physical preparation so their bodies will better tolerate the stress of surgery. Of course, for emergency surgery, this sort of preparation is impractical. It is most useful for people planning cosmetic surgeries or orthopedic procedures like a hip replacement.

 Better surgical results

Duke University Medical Center (North Carolina, USA) has a program to instruct surgical patients, and they studied if the program really helps patients have a better surgical and hospital experience. They studied a group of 326 adults aged 65 or older scheduled for elective abdominal surgery.

These patients were randomly split into two groups. One group completed the pre-operative preparation program, and the other group received only the usual pre-operative instructions.

The results

The patients in the group who completed the pre-operative preparation program had shorter hospital stays (4 days vs. 6 days for the regular patients), and a lower rate of needing to be re-hospitalized within a week after discharge (2.8% vs. 9.9%).

Another study, at Indiana University Medical Center, showed a “dramatically reduced” rate of hospital-acquired infections. A University of Michigan study showed “lowered costs of care, and the program was well accepted by the patients”.

Most hospitals do not have a program like this, but you can take many of the measures on your own. Here is a summary. Discuss this with your doctor at least a few weeks before surgery.

Pre-operative preparation

 Prepare your mind

Before agreeing to surgery, understand the procedure, the benefits and risks, and what the recovery will be like. Understand what pain might occur. Your mood may be depressed after surgery, so learn some relaxation techniques ahead of time. This could be prayer, meditation, soothing music, or other ways that relax your mind.

Breathe and stop smoking

To recover well after anesthesia, your lungs need to expand well to avoid pneumonia. Ask your doctor what breathing exercises he recommends. If you smoke, you are in a higher risk category for surgery, so quit at least a few weeks before surgery if you can.

Start moving and walking

“The number one thing that helps patients after surgery is getting up and out of bed.” according to Dr. Shelley McDonald of Duke University. To help you get up sooner after surgery, build up your endurance before the operation. Strengthening your core, arms, and legs is especially helpful. If you already don’t do it, start walking at least 20 minutes a day a few weeks prior to your operation.

Stay hydrated and eat well

Especially 7 to 10 days before your surgery, make sure you are eating well and are well-hydrated. Know when to stop eating and drinking before the surgery.

Regarding medications

Many people do not think about it, but aspirin and some other medications such as Ibuprofen can increase bleeding, so you might need to stop those medications a couple weeks before. Ask your doctor well ahead of the surgery date about these medications and any others you take, including supplements, such as Vitamin E, garlic, or fish oil (that can also increase bleeding).

If you do some pre-operative “training” before your surgery, you are more likely to have a good outcome! Talk this over with your doctor!

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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