7 Smart Ways to Get Ready for Surgery

There's more to do than meet with your surgeon and set a date for the procedure.

Aside from meeting with your surgeon and setting a date for your joint replacement surgery, there’s a lot you can do to make sure your mind and body are ready for the big day and the days that follow.

Here are seven smart ways to get ready for surgery.

  1. Eat well – The time just before surgery is not the time to diet or try new over-the-counter herbs, supplements or medications. Focus on eating a healthy, balanced, sensible diet. Protein, such as lean meat and low fat dairy products, in particular, will help your bones and muscles recover from surgery. Be sure to drink plenty of water too.
  2. Be smoke-free - Smoking impacts your blood vessels and lungs, and can slow your recovery from surgery. If you don’t smoke, that’s great! But try to avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible.
  3. Get a move on – Ask your doctor about any exercises you should do before surgery. Exercises to strengthen your upper body will help you get around easier if you need to use crutches or a walker after surgery. Certain exercises can help maintain the strength of your leg and hip muscles. Practicing the exercises now will help prepare for your post-surgery rehabilitation.
  4. Elevate your outlook – In the days immediately following your surgery, you may have more physical challenges than you did before your procedure. You may also need to lean on others for help doing everyday tasks too. And it’s not unusual to have some level of discomfort until you’re fully healed. That’s a lot to handle all at once. Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for these realities will help you have a more positive attitude and allow you to you focus on the reason you want surgery in the first place—so you can enjoy a life with better mobility and less pain. Explore meditation techniques to ease your anxiety before and after surgery.
  5. Request a parking permit – You can get a temporary (6 month) disabled parking permit through the Secretary of State to use while you recover from surgery. You may find you don’t need it, but it’s better to get the forms and ask your doctor to sign them prior to surgery, so that you’ll have the permit and the option will be available, if you need it.
  6. Sleep on it – Getting adequate rest will help you feel more energized and prepared leading up to your surgery.
  7. Make a medication list  – Your list needs to include prescription drugs, as well as any over-the-counter medications such as low dose aspirin, vitamins, herbs and other supplements. Your doctor will want to review your list prior to surgery and may recommend tapering off and stopping certain medications before your surgery date. This is because some medications can impact bleeding during the operation or interact with anesthesia or other medications you will be given during and after the surgery. 

If you experience signs of a heart attack, chew an aspirin and call 9-1-1. Heart attacks are caused by blood clots in the heart arteries and aspirin helps reduce these clots.