Patients play an important part in making sure surgery is successful

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In addition to meeting everybody who will be involved in your surgery, you'll want to make sure you have a very specific conversation with the anesthesiologist, especially if you have had issues in the past. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) In addition to meeting everybody who will be involved in your surgery, you'll want to make sure you have a very specific conversation with the anesthesiologist, especially if you have had issues in the past. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
"The patient has an active role," Dr. Julia Nimlos with Banner Health said. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) "The patient has an active role," Dr. Julia Nimlos with Banner Health said. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
"You should have a good relationship with every physician and member of your care team," Nimlos said. "You should have a good relationship with every physician and member of your care team," Nimlos said.
In the days leading up to your procedure, Nimlos suggests cutting out any greasy or heavy foods and upping your exercise. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) In the days leading up to your procedure, Nimlos suggests cutting out any greasy or heavy foods and upping your exercise. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

No one wants to go in for surgery, but if you have to, it turns out you can’t leave it all up to your doctor; there are some key steps you can take to help make sure your surgery is a success.

That is something Lucille Neeland found out when she recently went in for hernia surgery.

"I had to see which medications I could take up until surgery," she explained.

Aside from checking on medications, she also made sure her house was ready, both for while she was away and when she got home.

"I had to do a little preparation because at my house, I have two cats, and they have to be cared for and looked after and cleaned up after," Neeland said.

Her surgeon, Dr. Julia Nimlos with Banner Health, says there are many things patients can do to help ensure the surgery and recovery go well.

"The patient has an active role," Nimlos said.

For any planned surgery, Nimlos says it's a good idea to ask to meet all the doctors involved.

"You should have a good relationship with every physician and member of your care team," she said.

High on the list is a conversation with the anesthesiologist, especially if you have had issues in the past.

"If someone has had surgery in the past and had difficulty with it or trouble, all of that information is very useful to the anesthesiologist because that may alter the medications that they give or the way they administer the anesthesia for the next procedure," Nimlos explained.

You also need to make sure your surgeon knows about all health conditions; don't assume he or she knows.

"So if someone develops a fever or a cold or a urinary tract infection, you want to make sure you get that cleared before proceeding with an elective surgery," Nimlos said.

That's not all your surgeon needs to know. Tell him or her about any medications and supplements you take -- all of them.

"Herbal supplements, a lot of people might not realize, can have interactions with regular drugs you might get during surgery and afterward," Nimlos said.

Neeland, for example, found it was important to bring up a common drug, something you yourself might take on a daily basis.

"One of them I couldn't take, of course, was aspirin, which thins your blood," she said.

In addition, Nimlos says you need to let your surgeon know about any other types of blood thinners you take.

In the days leading up to your procedure, Nimlos suggests cutting out any greasy or heavy foods and upping your exercise.

"Because undergoing anesthesia and being on a breathing machine is like a workout for your heart and lungs, and so staying active or increasing your exercise tolerance actually helps you tolerate the surgery and undergoing the anesthesia," she explained.

She says you also need to cut out alcohol and tobacco.

Once you're home, keeping up on hygiene, even though you might not feel like it, is important.

"To keep the skin clean and the area of the surgery clean, as well, decreases your risk," the surgeon said.

If possible, arrange for someone to help on those first few days.

"You need to have somebody with you the night after surgery when you get home," Nimlos said.

When patients join the healthcare team, everyone wins, according to Nimlos.

"It really improves the outcome, honestly," she said.

Click/tap here to download basic checklist

Before your procedure

These are general guidelines; your doctor may have more specific instructions, as well.

  • Ask the surgeon to explain the benefits, risks and expectations of the procedure.
  • Discuss what type of anesthesia will be given and what recovery time is expected.
  • Tell your doctor about any medicines (over-the-counter, prescription and supplements) you are currently taking, as well as any prior procedures, history of chronic illnesses or allergies you may have.
  • Stop drinking and eating for the recommended time period before and after surgery.
  • Stop smoking as instructed.
  • Follow any specific preoperative bathing, shaving or cleaning instructions.
  • Discuss any postoperative instructions that need to be followed. (For example, changing dressings, post-op medicines, follow-up appointments.)
  • Do not wear makeup the day of surgery, including nail polish.
  • Do not wear eye contacts the day of surgery.
  • Leave valuables and jewelry at home.
  • Advise the medical staff of dentures or other prosthetic devices you may be wearing.
  • Arrange all insurance coverage before surgery, as many insurance carriers do not cover many types of plastic surgery procedures (particularly cosmetic procedures).
  • Arrange a ride home after your procedure.

Postoperative care

  • Resume taking your preoperative care medications, unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon or another physician.
  • If you are on pain medications, it is suggested you use a stool softener like Colace.
  • Remember caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are dehydrating.
  • Unless otherwise instructed, walking is a good activity. Avoid lifting more than 20 pounds until you are seen for your first post-operative visit.
  • Do not drive if you are taking narcotic pain medication
  • You may shower and let water run over your incisions 48 hours after surgery. Avoid swimming, hot tubs or bathtubs until incisions are healed, typically two weeks.
  • Avoid fatty or greasy foods

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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