Preparing For Your Surgery

You will be given a pre-operative information packet that explains everything you should do and know before your surgery date.  The packet should include all the medications you should not ingest for at least 2 weeks before your surgery. These medications will include, but are not limited to, aspirin-containing products, alcohol and herbal supplements.  Also, your surgeon may or may not advise you of the benefits of Arnica montana, Bromelain or Vitamin A for swelling, bruising and general healing properties.  However, only take a supplement or herbal remedy if your surgeon advises!

It is quite possible that you will have "blood work" performed which may include a Complete Blood Count (CBC), a Chemical Profile and, if applicable, a pregnancy test.  Some surgeons will also order immune deficiency tests such as HIV tests. These tests are normally an extra out-of-pocket expense that the patient must participate in to check your white and red blood cell count and other issues which will tell the surgeons that you are healthy enough to handle a surgery. 

So many things to do... so little time. Surgery will be here before you know it so make sure that you complete your preparation well ahead of your surgery for less pre-operative anxiety. 

Supplements & Medications to Avoid Before Surgery
Do not ingest any brand of aspirin, aspirin-containing drugs or even seratonin increasing medications on the Medications & Supplements to Avoid Before Surgery  list for 14 days prior to surgery and 14 days after surgery.  Or Click Here for a Printable List.  Aspirin and aspirin-containing products may inhibit blood clotting and cause difficulties during and after surgery.  If you need an aspirin-free fever reducer and pain reliever, many physicians recommend Tylenol.  Also, if you smoke, you shouldn't smoke at least 2 weeks prior and at least 2 weeks after your surgery date.  Smoking significantly reduces your body's superficial circulation and vascularity.  This means difficulty in bringing much needed oxygen to your tissues for proper healing.

You will also be given a list of things to buy or have around you in your "healing room".  Things like frozen peas, raspberries or blueberries for icing you down to ease the swelling and bruising (IF APPLICABLE).  You will be asked to buy an anti-bacterial soap, perhaps Hibiclens, or it will be given to you for cleansing a few days before surgery (to kill Staph and other surface bacteria).  Some surgeons simply suggest Dial antibacterial soap.  You will usually buy gauze and other types of dressings to tend to your incision area or it may be given to you -- find out beforehand.  We have provided a Preparation List for your convenience below or you may click the link for a printable version to have on hand.

Preparing Your Home For Your Recovery
Please utilize the following tips to better prepare you for a more comfortable recovery:

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  1. ___ Clean your house - or have it cleaned

  2. ___ Unless you fortunate to have someone who can cook for you, shop beforehand for recovery food and treats like frozen dinners, canned soups, pudding, Jell-O, etc; or cook your own and freeze it. 

  3. ___ Take out the trash, recyclables, etc. beforehand so you don't have to worry about it while you're healing.

  4. ___ Have all of your laundry taken care of before your surgery.

  5. ___ Make a "Honey Do" list (bills, thermostat settings, errands, whatever) for your caretaker. 

  6. ___ Purchase all of your medications, Vitamin C and dressings beforehand in case your pharmacy is in short supply.

  7. ___ Purchase a Thermometer if you don't have one, it is imperative you check your temperature regularly for any signs of fever over 101. Many times, a high fever is a sign of infection.

  8. ___ Place all medications either in a weekly pill "case" or in labeled containers, by day and time if need be.

  9. ___ Purchase some SinEcch Arnica Montana, Bromelain or Pineapple Juice if your surgeon approves.

  10. ___ A laptop is an awesome thing to have during recovery.

  11. ___ If no lap top, maybe a Gameboy or a Playstation/Nintendo set up near you - you will get bored. Having these items will keep you from doing things you shouldn't be doing.

  12. ___ Have lots of movies, books, magazines or videogames on hand.

  13. ___ Have someone watch your dog, cat, children, etc.

  14. ___ If you can't have them cared for, tend to their needs beforehand, i.e. put cans of food on the counter with the can opener so you don't have to reach for it. Change the litter box as well. You don't want to expose yourself to germs as well as no bending over!

  15. ___ A comfortable recliner is a great asset, if not the bed is perfectly fine, just keep your upper body elevated.

  16. ___ Have lots of fluffy pillows on hand. A good idea is to place two pillows under your top mattress where your head will be, finish it off with one or two pillows under your head so that you are properly elevated.  Additionally, two pillows on each side and one under your knees can keep you from turning over during slumber.

  17. ___ Have a bucket or pail with a lid at your bedside and on the ride home -- essential. (for vomiting)

  18. ___ Have seltzer or regular bottled water with you on the way home to stave off the nausea or to cleanse the mouth after vomiting.

  19. ___ A nightstand with all of your medications, ample light, bottled water, a few packages of crackers (NOT garlic or spicy flavored), remote control (with new batteries) & the phone (fully charged) is essential for a comfortable and hitch-free recovery area..

  20. ___ Extra blankets; anesthesia can give you rigors (the "chills") after surgery.

  21. ___ Freeze ice packs, bags of frozen peas, raspberries or blueberries beforehand if you were instructed to ice.

  22. ___ Have a heating pad, hot water bottle or microwaveable pack on hand.  These are great for a sore back -- remember not to sleep on them.

  23. ___ A "go-fer", a significant other or an older child can get you things so you don't have to . Please take it easy.

  24. ___ Place anything you may need at hip level so that you have no need to reach or bend down. This means canned and dry goods in the kitchen and toiletries in the bathroom. 

  25. ___ Have a robe and slippers (or several pair of thick socks) nearby.

  26. ___ Have a few comfortable oversized shirts that open from the front on hand, as well as some sweat pants or pajama bottoms.

  27. ___ Have a hand mirror nearby so you don't have to get up to preen.

  28. ___ Make time for yourself before your surgery; pour a bath, light some candles, listen to some music - relax. Try to gather your thoughts and soothe your mind.

  29. ___ The night before (and with some surgeons, for 3 days before) you will be asked to wash your face and neck and sometimes hair with Dial antibacterial or Hibiclens soap to help rid your body of its naturally occurring Staph on the skin's surface -- you do not want a Staph infection.

  30. ___ Wash your hair the night before surgery -- it may be a long time before you get to do that again.  As before, if you were instructed to wash your hair with anti-bacterial soap, do so.

  31. ___ Remove any fingernail and toenail polish so that the OR techs will be better able to  determine if you are getting enough oxygen during surgery. The nails turn blue-ish from lack of oxygen and reddish with too much carbon dioxide. Although there are oximeters for this purpose, it is still good practice. 

  32. ___ Talk to your spouse or about any concerns that you may have, they may have some insights or questions you haven't thought of -- they may be experiencing pre-op anxiety as well.

  33. ___ Ask your surgeon for valium if you have anxiety, suspect you will experience back pain from sleeping upright for a few weeks or if you need help sleeping.  Alternately, ask if you may take an over the counter sleeping medication.

  34. ___ "Black out" your windows with thick drapes, a blanket or other form of dark medium so that when you do get to sleep, regardless of the hours, you can stay asleep.

  35. ___ If you think television, video games and reading are eventually going to bore you or stress your eyes - have a discman (or walkman) on hand with your favorite relaxing CDs or audio books.

  36. ___ Have fresh film or a disposable "post-op photo" camera on hand. Especially if you are considering documenting your procedure online (on a personal site or a Plastic Surgery site like this one)

  37. ___ Have your journal and a few fresh, fully inked pens ready if you are wanting to document your post-operative thoughts in writing. Alternately, type it into your lap top or speak it into a miniature recorder. Remember fresh batteries!

  38. ___ Just in case the lights go out, have a flash light on your nightstand. 

  39. ___ Alternately, have a nightlight lighting your way to the bathroom should the need arise in the middle of the night.

  40. ___ If you don't have a laptop and you have online friends who are eager to hear from you -- have your significant other or friend post" or email them with your recovery news. Give him or her a list of the email addresses and URLs of the message boards.

  41. ___ Have an answering machine connected to the phone next to your recovery area. Getting woken up when you just got to sleep can be very unsettling -- you need your sleep. Don't forget to turn down the volume and turn off the ringer.

  42. ___ I know you may hear not to look at yourself for a few days but it is very difficult to do, I mean what are you going to do, close your eyes every time you are near a mirror? You know full well you can't not look yourself for an entire week.  But remember when you do break down and peek, your features change every day so please don't get discouraged.  You will have considerable swelling for quite some time.  Please know this beforehand and be sure to print out our Post-operative Emotions Reminder Checklist.

  43. ___ If you are choosing to document your recovery remember to take your post-operative photos.

  44. ___ Last but not least, RELAX. If you are super stressed out it can really affect your recovery. Try to remember that you will heal, you will be less sore and that you are going to look great! Just be patient.

Pre-op Shopping
ll of the above suggestions and products you should buy may be overwhelming at first so print out our helpful shopping list to help you with your pre-op woes:

Click Here For A 

Pre-Op Shopping Check List


Of course not all of the below is needed -- it is only provided for ideas and for general convenience. Many of you may have a majority of the below items. We have also added blank spaces for items that you may want or need that we may not have thought of.


  1. ___ Medications: 

  2. ___ pain meds __________________________________________________________________

  3. ___ antibiotics __________________________________________________________________

  4. ___ anti-inflammatory ____________________________________________________________

  5. ___ blood pressure (if applicable) _______________________________________________________________________________

  6. ___ other _______________________________________________________________________

  7. ___ other ______________________________________________________________________

  8. ___ other _______________________________________________________________________

  9. ___ Pill Case

  10. ___ Med Time Chart to remind you when to take your meds. (Print out our own time chart for your convenience)

  11. ___ Birth Control meds if you are female - don't forget if you are taking birth control that some antibiotics can interfere so in the event that you do have relations, use another form of protection as well.

  12. ___ Dressings, gauze, Bacitracin if needed

  13. ___ Hibiclens or antibacterial soap

  14. ___ SinEcch Pharmaceutical Grade Arnica Montana capsules (

  15. ___ Over the counter (OTC) sleep meds or ask surgeon for prescription

  16. ___ Thermometer

  17. ___ Mild stool softeners (like Colace); ask your surgeon first.

  18. ___ Silicone sheeting, Kelocote, Steri-strips, Maderma, etc.

  19. ___ Moist Towelettes, Make-up remover towelettes, etc.

  20. ___ Topical arnica gel

  21. ___ Oral Vitamin C

  22. ___ Chin Strap (compression strap).

  23. ___ OTC (over the counter) muscle relaxers (ask your surgeon first!)

  24. ___ Hot water bottles/heating pads for your back

  25. ___ Hand moisturizer

  26. ___ Boxes of Kleenex

Grocery Store:

  1. ___ Bags of frozen berries, peas (or whatever, if applicable)

  2. ___ Ritz crackers, Vanilla Wafers, Cheeze-its or Goldfish crackers

  3. ___ Bottled water, electrolyte or energy drinks (ask your surgeon if these are okay)

  4. ___ Daikon (root vegetable for cleansing the bowels) - may be best after you are finished with your medications.

  5. ___ Frozen dinners

  6. ___ Canned soups (low sodium)

  7. ___ Pudding and Jell-O

  8. ___ Fruit

  9. ___ Cookies

  10. ___ ___________________________________________________________________________

  11. ___ ___________________________________________________________________________

  12. ___ ___________________________________________________________________________

  13. ___ ___________________________________________________________________________


Department Store or Other:

  1. ___Lots of fluffy pillows

  2. ___ Whistle, walkie-talkie or an intercom system

  3. ___ Camera

  4. ___ Film or disposable camera

  5. ___ Journal or notebook

  6. ___ Ink pens

  7. ___ Support garment, neck strap, etc.

  8. ___ Gameboy or a Playstation/Nintendo/Discman

  9. ___ Fresh batteries for remote, Gameboy, Discman, booklight, phone, etc.

  10. ___ Music CD's or Audio Books to listen to

  11. ___ Bucket or pail with lid (for nausea)

  12. ___ PJ's, robe, or oversized, comfortable shirts that buttons in the front

  13. ___ Pair of slippers (or several pairs of thick socks)

  14. ___ Hand mirror

  15. ___ Hair "scrunchies" if your hair is long

  16. ___ Body pillow(s)

  17. ___ Flash light or nightlight for late night bathroom trips

  18. ___ Answering machine (or borrow friend's)

  19. ___ Lap top with long phone and power cord (or borrow friend's)

  20. ___ __________________________________________________________________________

  21. ___ __________________________________________________________________________

  22. ___ __________________________________________________________________________

  23. ___ __________________________________________________________________________

  24. ___ __________________________________________________________________________

  25. ___ __________________________________________________________________________


Swelling & Bruising Recommendations
You will more than likely bruise and or have swelling and tenderness.  This is all a normal part of the healing process.  Just remember and prepare yourself for this and you will be emotionally prepared for this. 

Please discuss this with your surgeon and perhaps obtain supplements, herbal remedies, etc. but only if you surgeon suggests or recommends them.  You may wish to ask him or her about:

  • Bromelain

  • SinEcch Arnica montana

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin K

  • pineapple juice

  • or others

Depression After Surgery
Periods of sadness and emotional fluctuations can be an issue for many patients after their surgery.  It is very important to know this beforehand so that you are not cast into a deep lull which can affect your healing.  Please see our Post-operative Depression Section for more information and a Printable Emotions-reminder List that you should keep near you during your recovery.  This information will remind you that things are going to be better and that yes, you knew this was a possibility - and it will pass.

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(Updated on 03/05/10)
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