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Preparing for and Recovering from Surgery

Learn how to prepare for surgery and recovery at UC San Diego Health.

Your Preoperative Appointment: What to Expect

Prior to surgery, you will be seen in a preoperative care center for anesthesia screening, preop education and financial screening. This process helps ensure you are ready for surgery before anesthesia.

Your preoperative appointment will last one to two hours and is usually scheduled two to seven days before your procedure. This appointment is a good time to ask any questions you may have.

What Items Should You Bring to Your Appointment?

To make the most of your preoperative appointment, please bring or make sure we have:

  • 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 done within the past three months

What Does Your Preoperative Evaluation Include?

  • Blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, height and weight measurement
  • A history and physical examination by an anesthesiologist or anesthesia nurse practitioner
  • Education about anesthesia types and options
  • Education about pain measurement and postsurgical pain control
  • Possibly blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG) or a chest X-ray (CXR)
  • An explanation of what will occur after surgery and a review of general preoperative and postoperative instructions
  • Directions on eating and drinking before surgery

At the end of your preoperative evaluation, you will receive information about when and where to arrive for surgery.

Recovering from Surgery: How We Help Speed Up Your Recovery

Our care is delivered by teams of surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses, working closely with patients and their families. To facilitate your recovery, we:

  • Use the most modern and effective anesthesia methods and techniques
  • Provide alternatives to narcotics to help manage pain after surgery
  • Encourage patients to begin moving and resume activity immediately after surgery
  • Advise patients to receive nutrition right away after surgery by consuming easy-to-digest liquids and foods

Your care team is dedicated to helping you recover as quickly and smoothly as possible so you can return to your normal life and activities, feeling stronger and healthier than ever.

How Can You Start Your Recovery Right Away?

Some simple steps you can take to help begin your recovery include:

  • Getting out of bed the same day of your surgery. Just getting out of bed, sitting in a chair and walking around your room can help reduce your risk of complications. It may seem counterintuitive, but too much rest is not necessarily a good thing when you are 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 external periods of time.
  • Have some sugarless gum or hard candy on hand for after your surgery.
  • Remember to take any prescribed pain medications. This will minimize your pain and help you to get moving.

To help shorten the length of your stay and facilitate early mobility and recovery, we are launching Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS), a new surgery protocol that streamlines patient processes before, during and after surgeries. This program will eventually be rolled out throughout the UC San Diego Health system.

Preoperative Care