There will be many healthcare professionals working to make sure you have an excellent outcome from your surgery. Besides the surgeons, there are internists, anesthesiologists, nurses, and technicians that combine their efforts to help ensure you success. You may be wondering: is there anything that I can do to improve my surgical experience and improve the chances of a good outcome? The answer is yes. With some preoperative information you can be as healthy and prepared as possible for the day of surgery.
The first bit of preoperative information that will be help you prepare will be to determine how healthy you are. You will likely undergo several tests and studies to get a sense of your overall health. Once you get this preoperative information you should make every attempt to become as healthy as possible before your surgery. For example, if you have diabetes, you should have that very well controlled well before the day of surgery. Of course this will require conversations with and visits to your doctor so that she can provide you with the proper medicine and tools; however, once you have those in hand, the onus is on you to control your blood sugars. This usually requires taking medications faithfully, monitoring your blood glucose by way of finger sticks and perhaps giving yourself injections of insulin. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause serious problems with wound healing and can greatly prolong the recovery period. Proper control of your diabetes may require several visits to the doctor and medication adjustments.
Diabetes is not the only thing that needs to be controlled prior to surgery. Blood pressure needs to be near normal for surgery. This means that if you require blood pressure medicine, you should be faithfully taking it so that several normal blood pressure readings are recorded before surgery.
Surgery is a stress to your body. If you are well enough, and most people are, ask your doctor about an exercise routine that you can do to improve your physical fitness. The routine should involve some sort of cardiovascular training since your cardiovascular system will be taxed during surgery. Also, you may want to do some sort of weight training. If you will not be able to move much after surgery, your muscles will tend to weaken because of the decreased activity. If you build some muscular strength ahead of time, you will have an easier time during the recovery period because you will be stronger.
One of the most important things that you can do to improve your chances of a successful surgical outcome is to quit smoking. Even if you can quit for two weeks prior to surgery, this will give your lungs a chance to heal. Healthy lungs are important for the day of surgery and during the recovery. Smoking (among many other damaging effects) paralyzes the system that clears debris and bacteria from your lungs. If this system is paralyzed, your chance for a serious pneumonia increases.
Finally, ask your doctor which medicines you should and should not take before surgery. For example, you may need to stop taking blood thinners in advance of the procedure. On the other hand, you may need to take your blood pressure medicine on the morning of surgery even if you were told not to take anything by mouth starting at midnight the evening before.
Last Updated: 03/31/2009
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