What to expect when you're expecting (to have surgery)

Having surgery is no joke. And getting all of your appointments and approvals and authorizations and check-ups can be more than a little nuts-making. Of course, we want to simplify this process for you as much as we can, but here’s the catch: you’re more than a number to us. You’re a real woman with a unique case that can’t fit into a mold (it’s why you came to see us). 


That being said, we’ll do our best to answer your questions and prepare you with what to expect at your pre-operative appointment, but this is like a price quote — it’s just an estimate. Let’s get started. We hope you’ll appreciate our attempt to forewarn you about what to expect at pre-op. 


To begin with, let us explain that the purpose of your pre-op visit in our office is to make sure that you and the doctor are on the same page about the surgery for which you are scheduled. You will sit down with the MA to go over the plan the doctor developed with you at a previous appointment. 


We want to make sure that all of your pre-surgical questions are answered and that we agree on the surgical plan. The MA will go over what you can expect on the day of surgery and in the days and weeks to follow. 


After their pre-op, patients almost always have an appointment scheduled to go straight to the hospital for pre-op blood work and testing. This can vary. If you lose your calendar or forget your hospital pre-op appointment information, please do not hesitate to call us right away to make sure that you don’t miss any appointments that could affect your scheduled surgery.


Next, you may be wondering whether you will be examined at this appointment, so get ready for an answer that you’ll have to get accustomed to around here: It depends.

It depends. It depends! IT DEPENDS! Everything depends in our office because we don’t do “one size fits all” medicine. But in this case, it is more than likely that you will not be examined if you are coming in for just the pre-op appointment because the doctor typically performs the required examination(s) at the first visit and on the occasion of follow-up testing. However, if you are scheduled for one of those in-office tests (urodynamics, ultrasound, etc) on the day of your pre-op, then you can expect a brief examination as the test is being performed. 


On some occasions, the doctor may discover during your conversation that some part of your original complaint has changed. In that case, he may need to perform a cystoscopy or re-examine you to make sure that your surgical plan doesn’t need to be adjusted. If you’re unsure whether you’ve been scheduled for one of those tests, or if your condition has changed since you were last seen, please give us a call to discuss.


With that question answered, you may be wondering how you can prepare for your appointment. Should you fast? How early should you get there? What do you need to bring? In order: 1) No 2) Right at your appointment time, and 3) It depends. 


Let me explain. You do not need to be fasted for any appointments in our office. Period. The hospital is another question, but none of our in-office testing requires fasting. We may have other requirements for the various tests, but fasting will never be one of them — so go have a delicious breakfast or stop off for lunch before your appointment. Treat yourself!


Additionally, you don’t need to worry about arriving early for a pre-op appointment, as there will only be one form to sign at the time of check in. This form is our way of informing you again (you should have signed this form at your new patient appointment, as well) that we do not provide long-term, narcotic pain management following surgery. 


In other words: you will be prescribed a very short course of pain medication at the end of your hospital stay, and henceforth: no more. Please call the office with any additional questions.


Now let’s talk about that “It depends” I laid out for you just a few paragraphs ago. When it comes to exactly what you’ll need to bring into the office, it truly does depend on where you may have needed to be seen prior to surgery. If you needed a pre-surgical clearance from another provider on short notice, we may ask you to bring that in. 


Otherwise, you shouldn’t need to bring anything else in. And as for the topic of pre-surgical clearances: We will have a full blog post on that soon but suffice it to say that we will inform you beforehand if you need one. Please call the office if you have additional records you think we may need.


Another vital series of questions that patients often ask involve medications they are taking. During the pre-op appointment, the MA will discuss your medications — which ones, if any, to stop taking prior to surgery, as well as when you can resume medications after the operation. 


She will also provide you with information about bowel preparation if you need to undergo such a process prior to surgery. If you forget the instructions or lose your information packet, please give us a call. We will happily find out from the MA whether you need a bowel prep, and if so, which one. 


One topic the MA will address is fasting prior to surgery. The only “fasting” we require prior to surgery is nothing to eat or drink after the midnight immediately before your surgery. Simply put: don’t eat breakfast or drink so much as water the morning of the surgery. 


If you have discussed this with the doctor and he has given you other advice, abide by that advice. But if no medical condition prohibits you from fasting, please remain fasted from the midnight prior to your surgery until you wake up after the procedure. Call the office if you are concerned about abstaining from food and water for that many hours prior to surgery.  


The MA will address any restrictions you may have following surgery. Many of our patients do have restrictions on lifting, pushing, and pulling for a set amount of time in order to allow the pelvic floor to fully heal. But our primary goal in operating on you is to return you to a reasonable quality of life in as short a time as we can. 


That time may vary, based on your individual experience. But the MA will discuss the most likely restrictions you may have following the particular surgery you are having. This is also a good time to ask her any questions you may have about work-related restrictions.


The last major issue we address at pre-op is timing. At your appointment in our office, we may run behind schedule. If that does happen, rest assured that our office will call the hospital and notify them that you are running late. Almost always, they will simply take you back to be seen when you get there. 


In any case, we will arrange that with the hospital if the delay was our fault. If you find yourself running late for our appointment or theirs, please call us to discuss and we can determine the best course of action for you that day. Please note that our phones are forwarded to an answering service on Thursday and Friday. We will see that you called, but we may not be able to call back immediately. Thank you for your patience.


We hope this has been an informative post — a brief preview of what you can expect at your own pre-op appointment. Please call us with any questions or concerns you may have, and we will do our best to get you a satisfactory answer.


Until next time, be well and stay healthy!

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