Prior to Your Surgery
If you smoke, you should stop before your operation. Any period of nonsmoking helps, but to get the most benefit you should quit for at least two weeks before surgery. Quitting or cutting down on smoking will allow you to tolerate an anesthetic more easily. It will also be easier for your lungs to resume normal function after surgery. You will not cough as much, and the risk of infection is decreased.
If you are taking aspirin, ibuprofen or any of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications that can inhibit blood clotting, you should discontinue this two weeks prior to your surgery. Using Tylenol until the time of surgery is acceptable. Please notify your doctor of all other prescription and non-prescription medications that you may be taking.
If you are anemic, please take an iron supplement prior to your surgery.
Pre-Operative Doctors Visit
You may have a pre-operative visit scheduled with your doctor. This is the time for you to ask all your questions about your upcoming procedure and recovery. Your doctor may perform an examination at this visit. Bring a current list of your medications and drug allergies to this appointment.
If you are scheduled for in-patient surgery, you will be asked to pre-register at the hospital. You will also be asked to obtain special testing and meet with an anesthesiologist two to three days prior to surgery. For out-patient surgery, no pre-operative blood work is required. You may have your hemoglobin checked on the day of surgery.
On the Day of Surgery
You will be receiving a packet of information from Rex Hospital that will discuss checking in, what to bring and not bring, what will happen pre-operatively and in the operating room, recovery room, and recovery while in the hospital.
Recovery in the Hospital
Your doctor will order pain medication for you. You are encouraged to ask for the medication on a regular basis before the pain becomes severe. Ibuprofen may be prescribed in addition to a narcotic to enhance the effect of the narcotic without increasing side effects.
You should continue to take most of your regular medications while in the hospital. In addition, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Medicine to help with nausea, sleeping or headaches is also available.
After the surgery, it is important to re-expand your lungs. You will be asked to breathe deeply, cough and change your position in bed often. As your strength returns, the nurses will have you move around as much as you can. Depending on the type of surgery you’ve had, you may be able to start walking soon after your operation. The sooner you resume activity, the sooner your body’s functions can get back to normal.
Length of Stay
Your insurance company will have a standard length of stay for an uncomplicated surgery of your type. You should contact the company ahead of time to determine this.
Recovery at Home
After outpatient surgery, you should be able to go home within one to two hours. You should not drive for 24 hours after outpatient surgery so you should arrange to have someone drive you home when you’re ready to check out.
Gradually resume normal activities as tolerated. No strenuous activities or heavy lifting are allowed until after your post-operative visit. Do not drive while you are still taking prescription pain medications. Walk several times a day. Expect to feel extremely fatigued during your recovery. This is a normal response and gradually passes with time. Limit lifting to 15 pounds or less during the first four weeks of recovery. Climbing stairs should cause no problems.
Take your pain medication as needed. Ibuprofen acts to enhance narcotics and may be recommended in addition to a narcotic. Tylenol may also be sufficient. Resume all of your usual medications as previously prescribed. A Dulcolax suppository or Fleets enema may be used if needed for a bowel movement. A stool softener (Colace, Citracel, Fibercon) may also be helpful during the first week or two of recovery.
Pain and bruising around the incision(s) are normal after surgery. Remove outer bandages (if any) one day after surgery. You may shower after the gauze dressings are off. Do not pull out or cut any sutures. Do not use ointments, topical antibiotics, or peroxide on the wound unless you are directed to do so. If your skin folds over the incision, you may use a hair dryer to keep the incision dry. The incision is usually healed by six weeks after surgery.
Call the office for temperatures over 101 degrees, severe pain, nausea, vomiting, redness or drainage around the incisions, urinary burning, or if you have any other questions.