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Before Surgery: Steps to Take

Prior to surgery, your physician will give you a packet of information prepared by Virginia Hospital Center's Pre-Operative Screening department, including an introductory letter explaining how you can best prepare for your pending surgery. Please take time to read this information. The steps below are general guidelines only, and are not meant to replace your physician's preoperative recommendations.

1. Learn About the Procedure

Virginia Hospital Center has highly trained surgical specialists with extensive experience in their fields who are available to answer any questions you may have. Fully understanding your condition, as well as the risks and benefits of any surgical procedure, can help you relax and better prepare for a successful outcome.

2. Take Care of Yourself

Practice eating well, staying fit, and getting lots of rest, especially in the weeks leading up to your procedure. If you smoke, try to quit a minimum of two weeks prior to surgery. The healthier you are, the more likely you are to have a smooth recovery. Be sure to follow your physician's instructions regarding eating, drinking, smoking and taking medications in the hours before your procedure.

3. Make a "To Do" List

Do you have pets or children who will need care in your absence? Do you need to alert your boss or coworkers about your plans for surgery and recovery? Making a "to do" list will ensure that all your arrangements are made in advance. Also consider making a packing list. Even if you're going home the same day as your surgery, you'll want to bring some things to the Hospital with you. Other things, such as valuables, are best left at home. Items you'll want to consider:

  • Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes - To wear after your procedure.
  • Makeup - For some surgeries, you'll be asked not to wear makeup during the procedure.
  • Contacts/Eyeglasses - In some cases, wearing contact lenses during surgery can cause serious harm to your eyes. If you decide to wear your contact lenses to the hospital, bring a contact lens case and solution, as well as eyeglasses and an eyeglass case.
  • Medications - Even if you are going home the same day as your surgery, you should bring your medications (including insulin if you are diabetic) to the Hospital.
  • Advance Directives - If you have a living will, bring it with you to the Hospital.

4. Food Shop Before Your Surgery

The diet recommended post surgery is light and easily digestible. It is recommended that you start with crackers, soup and then advance diet as tolerated. Buy or have prepared a variety of your favorite easily digestible foods at home. Also buy your favorite fluids.

5. Arrange for Help With Prescriptions

The Hospital does not have an outpatient pharmacy and can not dispense medications to go home with our patients. So that you will easily be able to fill the prescriptions you need, arrange in advance for a family/friend to be available to do so.

6. Arrange for Transportation

After most surgeries, you should not drive yourself home from the Hospital. Arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you and help you with your immediate postoperative needs.

7. Plan To Be Clean

Patients should bathe on the day of surgery, prior to arriving at the Hospital.

8. Plan for a Smooth Recovery

Ask your physician what you should expect in the days and weeks after your procedure. Purchase any necessary supplies in advance, and make sure you have adequate postoperative help, whether from a family member or professional caregiver.

Surgery Center

1701 N. George Mason Drive | Arlington, VA 22205-3698 | tel 703.558.5000
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