How to Prepare for a Surgical Procedure

You probably don’t need us to tell you that having surgery can be pretty anxiety-provoking, and that anxiety isn’t without reason. Any type of surgical procedure, no matter how small, comes with certain risks. Pair those risks with the fact that you’re not in control during the procedure and you have a perfect recipe for anxiety.

However, there are a number of things you can do prior to a surgical procedure to better prepare your mind and body for it, which goes a long way to alleviating that pre-surgery anxiety. If you apply the following tips before your procedure, then you’re already well on your way to a healthy recovery.

How to Prepare Your Body and Mind for Surgery

How to properly prepare for surgery varies a bit depending on the type of procedure you’re getting, but there are a few general practices that apply to most surgical scenarios.

Thoroughly Cleanse

It’s always a good idea to thoroughly cleanse your body prior to surgery, especially the area that will be operated on, hands, feet, nail beds, groin, arm pits and skin folds. The type of cleanser you use for this is incredibly important. You should use an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory cleanser that’s gentle on the skin and tough on bacteria, and avoid anything with fragrance, which can irritate your skin. Also, be sure to lather up for at least two minutes all over.

Avoid Food and Drink

For how long you should avoid food and drink before your surgery depends on the specific procedure you’re getting, but some form of a fast two to eight hours prior is typically recommended. Always follow the fasting advice of your provider to minimize the risks that come with the operation.

Be Mindful of Your Overall Health

Surgery puts a lot of stress on the body, so the stronger and healthier you are physically, the better equipped your body will be to handle it. In the weeks leading up to your procedure, take extra good care of your body by exercising, stretching, and getting enough sleep. And if you smoke, you should try to stop for at least two weeks prior to the procedure.

Leave Jewelry, Makeup, Nail Polish, and Contacts at Home

Jewelry, makeup, nail polish, contacts and anything else that you put on and take off at the end of the day (aside from clothing) should be left at home when you go to the hospital. All of these items increase surgical risks by opening the door for more bacteria to enter your body, and some things, like nail polish and hair products, can be flammable, which, of course, is potentially problematic.

Plan for Post-Surgery Medications

Having all of your ducks in a row on the medication front can help alleviate anxiety and any post-surgery scrambling. Ask your doctor what medications you’ll need following the procedure and if they can call it in ahead of time so that you’ll have your meds at the ready when your surgery’s over.

Prepare Your Home

You want to come home from surgery to a relaxing environment that lends itself well to recovery. Depending on your surgery, that can mean picking up necessary medical equipment or simply ensuring there’s a clean, designated place for you to rest, complete with extra pillows for elevating your body and free of clutter that might make you stumble.

Relax and Breathe

It might be cliche to tell you to “breathe” if you want to relax, but it’s a cliche for a reason—it works. Taking full, mindful breaths when you feel particularly nervous or anxious can help to slow your heart rate, relax your muscles, and make you feel more peaceful overall. And you don’t need an hourlong breathing session to feel a difference; often all it takes are a couple of mindful minutes.

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