Preparing for Surgery

Review our preparation guidelines to help your UC San Diego Health surgical experience go as smoothly as possible.

Our care team is here to help you physically and mentally prepare for surgery. We strive to keep you educated and fully involved with every aspect of your care plan, from surgery to recovery.

Your Preoperative Appointment and Evaluation

You may have an appointment at UC San Diego Health's Anesthesia Preparedness Clinic in La Jolla or Hillcrest before surgery for your care team to:

  • Review your medical history and current medications
  • Perform a physical exam and check your vitals
  • Discuss any imaging or blood tests you need before surgery
  • Explain anesthesia options
  • Give general preoperative instructions, including directions on eating and drinking before surgery
  • Provide you with everything you need to know for the day of surgery, including information on time and date, location and parking
  • Answer any questions you have

What to Bring to Your Appointment

To make the most of your preoperative appointment, bring the following:

  • A complete list of your medications, including how and when you take them. Do not bring your actual medications unless asked by your doctor.
  • Any heart tests (such as a stress test or echocardiogram), lung tests (such as a chest X-ray), or blood vessel exams (such as a carotid ultrasound), taken within the last two years
  • Any blood tests from within the past three months

Get More Info Before Surgery

Your Full and Fast Recovery

To improve your recovery, your care team:

  • Uses the most modern and effective anesthesia methods and techniques
  • Provides integrated pain-relief medications and alternatives to narcotics to help manage pain after surgery
  • Encourages you to begin moving and resume activity immediately after surgery
  • Advises you to receive nutrition right away after surgery by consuming easy-to-digest liquids and foods

We want to help you recover as quickly and smoothly as possible so you can return to your everyday life and activities, feeling stronger and healthier than ever.

Start Your Recovery Right Away

You can take an active role in your recovery by following these steps:

  • Get out of bed the same day of your surgery. By getting out of bed, sitting in a chair and walking around your room, you can help reduce your risk of complications. It may seem counterintuitive, but too much rest is not necessarily good when recovering from surgery. Some common, yet serious complications, such as pneumonia, deep vein thrombosis, and pressure ulcers, can develop when patients remain in hospital beds for too long.
  • Have some sugarless gum or hard candy on hand for after your surgery.
  • Remember to take any prescribed pain medications to minimize pain and help you move after surgery.

Benefit from Advanced Recovery Program

We launched the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program in 2019 to help shorten the length of your stay in the hospital and facilitate early mobility and faster recovery. This state-of-the-art approach streamlines processes before, during and after surgeries.

The four phases of this patient-centered process, used as appropriate, can help improve your surgical experience and reduce postoperative complications.

  • Preadmission phase: Your health care team evaluates your condition, offers nutritional guidance and sets goals so that you're well-prepared before surgery. You can read handouts and watch informational videos online.
  • Preoperative phase: You may consume complex carbohydrate drinks and clear liquids until four hours before surgery instead of stopping the day before.
  • During surgery: Anesthesia, medications and fluids are customized to your individual needs, with an emphasis on minimizing the use of opioids to help achieve effective pain control after surgery.
  • After surgery: This process includes helping you walk within 12 hours after surgery, start eating earlier, use nonsedating pain medicine and improve post-discharge follow-up.

Anesthesia Preparedness Clinic Locations

Your surgeon's office may schedule or ask you to schedule an appointment at UC San Diego Health's Anesthesia Preparedness Clinic in La Jolla or Hillcrest. For appointments, call 619-543-5751 (Hillcrest) or 858-657-6624 (La Jolla).