Before Your Surgery

Most surgeries are successful, but no surgery is risk-free. Here are steps you can take to reduce the risk of your surgical procedure. 

  • Understand your procedure. Ask your doctor to explain, as clearly as possible, what you should expect from the surgery. Make sure your doctor and your surgeon agree on exactly what will be done during the surgery. 
  • Help decide where your surgery will be performed. Where your surgery takes place is important. Minor surgical procedures may take place in your doctor’s office or a same-day (sometimes called "ambulatory") surgery clinic. More invasive procedures are usually performed in hospitals. Your doctor will usually have a facility in mind for your surgery. Ask your doctor why they prefer that facility. Discuss the costs, risks, and benefits of that option with your doctor and your health insurance provider. 
  • Make your doctor aware of any allergies or reactions you’ve had to anesthesia. Inform the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nursing staff, as well. Don’t assume they are aware of your allergies and reactions, even if you provided that information during your admissions process. 
  • Ask your doctor about any changes you need to make to your diet or medications before the surgery. Be sure to mention any vitamins or dietary supplements you’re taking. Repeat this information to your surgeon and nursing staff when you see them prior to the surgery. 
  • Find out whether your surgeon wants you to bathe with antibiotic soap prior to your surgery. Doing so may help prevent infections. 
  • Learn whether you need to take antibiotics before the surgery. Starting antibiotics before surgery can lower the risk of infection during and after surgery. Discussthis with your doctor and surgeon. 
  • Ask that clippers, and not a razor, be used for any pre-surgical hair removal. Razors can cause tiny cuts on the skin that provide routes for bacterial infection. 
  • Find out how your surgical team will protect you from blood clots. Your lack of movement during surgery can cause blood clots to form. Clots in your bloodstream can cause heart attack or stroke. The longer you’re in surgery, the higher the risk.
Last Reviewed: 5/9/2016