Pre-Surgery Instructions

Pre-Surgery Instructions

The healthier you are prior to surgery, the greater your chances of a smooth recovery. Here are some things you can do to prepare for your procedure. Additional pre-surgery information is available for men who are having a urologic procedure.

History & Physical With Your Primary Care Provider

We require that you undergo a history and physical with your primary care provider (PCP) within 30 days of your date of surgery. Your PCP will fax relevant records to us.

Quit Smoking

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend quitting smoking at least 30 days prior to surgery to lower the risk of complications such as delayed wound healing. The NIH also recommends that you wait at least 3 weeks after surgery to begin smoking or use of any tobacco products. The reason being is because when you smoke, the level of oxygen in your blood goes down and the nicotine you inhale increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Oxygen is critical to wound healing. What’s more, even in healthy non-smokers, anesthetics and surgery affect the circulation and reduce the amount of oxygen to the body – this effect is magnified in people who smoke. We understand how hard it is to quit smoking and we offer an exceptionally supportive smoking cessation program through our Center for Integrative Health & Wellness.


At least 2 weeks prior to your surgery, be sure to get vaccinated (e.g. flu and pneumonia) to avoid illness and prevent the spread of infection.

Avoid Alcohol

Drinking any amount of alcohol on a regular basis can cause your body to become alcohol-dependent. It is critical to openly discuss your alcohol consumption and narcotic doses with your physician or anesthesiologist. Alcohol withdrawal is a serious condition, and medication can be provided to prevent alcohol withdrawal while you are hospitalized.

Dental and Invasive Procedures

Discuss any planned dental work or other invasive procedures with your surgeon in advance of your surgery. It is typically recommended to have dental work or other procedures 3 months before surgery.


Your consulting physicians and surgeon will review your medication to determine your pre-op surgery instructions and medication regimen. Talk to your surgeon about anti-inflammatory and blood thinning medications for 10 days prior to surgery (aspirin, Coumadin, Lovenox, Motrin, Advil, Naprosyn and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories).


Eating a healthy diet before your surgery is very important to help your body recover. Be sure to eat balanced meals that include plenty of protein, high-fiber carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. We encourage you to reduce or eliminate your alcohol consumption prior to surgery. You may eat as you normally would on the day before the surgery, but you should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery.


We encourage you to continue exercising as directed by your physician to ensure good muscle strength.

Preparing Your Home for a Safe Return

Go shopping prior to surgery and have healthy foods ready to eat or easy to prepare. Change your bedding before you leave for the hospital, or have someone change it for you, so that you have clean sheets to sleep in when you get home. Pre-arrange for help from family, friends, neighbors or hire private help. Insurance does not cover help in the home.

The Night Before Surgery

Do not eat or drink ANYTHING after midnight – including gum and mints. If your physician instructs you to take certain medications the morning of surgery, take with only one sip of water.

Cleansing Instructions

Shower using the antibacterial chlorhexidine soap or cloths given to you at your Pre-Registration appointment or by your surgeon. Chlorhexidine cleanses the skin by disrupting the cell membranes of bacteria. Do not shave the area near or at your operative site for 48 hours prior to your surgery. Follow the detailed instructions given to you by the Pre-Registration RN or surgeon on how to properly cleanse the area. It is essential to cleanse with chlorhexidine the night before AND the morning of surgery.

Clothing and Linens

Make sure to have clean, fresh sheets on your bed, clean clothes to wear to bed and clean clothes to wear to the hospital after your morning shower. When you come in for your surgery, wear loose comfortable clothing with elastic waistbands. Do not wear makeup, body lotion or perfumes, and leave jewelry and any valuables at home.

What to Bring to the Hospital

Pack a bag or set aside the following items to bring with you to the hospital:

  • Cell phone(s) and charger
  • List of all current medications
  • Driver’s license/Photo ID
  • Insurance information
  • Any forms given to you by physician(s)
  • Personal toiletries
  • Your physicians’ contact information (primary care and specialists)
  • CPAP machine, hearing aids, inhaler, and/or eye drops, if routinely used

Please do not bring any valuables. Leave jewelry and all other valuables (money, credit cards, etc.) at home.

Your Support Person

It’s a good idea to bring a support person when you have your surgery. Certainly, you will need someone to drive you and pick you up, but a comforting familiar presence – spouse, partner, relative, or friend – can help keep you calm and relaxed prior to your procedure. Once you are admitted to the hospital, you and your support person are taken to pre-surgical area where the nursing staff will take your vital signs, start intravenous (IV) fluids, conduct pre-operative preparation to the operative site (which may include clipping hair) and administer medications. You will then be transported to the operating room.

Essential Oils for Relaxation

As part of our goal of delivering compassionate, patient-centric care, we offer holistic treatments to help reduce the stress of surgery and hospitalization. Our nursing staff is trained in integrative methods including breathing techniques, simple imagery, gentle touch therapy and essential oils. Research shows that these interventions can help ease anxiety, fear, insomnia, stress pain, grief, and nausea while promoting comfort, rest, relaxation, and healing. Our nurses will offer you a selection of essential oils to breathe in to help you relax before your surgery.

Pre-operative Interview, Safety, and Site Initialing

You will be introduced to the operating room (OR) circulating nurse who will be responsible for your care while in the operating room. The anesthesiologist will also meet you and review the medications and procedures to be used during surgery. When you are ready to go to the OR, your support person will be directed to the surgical waiting area or asked to provide a phone number for the surgeon to contact after procedure. If they choose to wait, the surgeon will meet briefly with them after the procedure.

Advance Healthcare Directive

To learn more about advance health care directives, click here.