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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

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. This process helps ensure that your medical information is reviewed and that any testing or consultations that are necessary prior to anesthesia are completed. The information reviewed will be reported to the anesthesia team assigned to your surgery date.

This appointment is also a good time to ask any questions about anesthesia that you may have. Additionally, we provide information about day-of-surgery planning, such as time and date, location, parking, medication, and eating and drinking instructions.

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?

  • A review of your medical history and current medication list
  • A physical exam and vitals, including height and weight, if you are seen in person at the clinic
  • Education about anesthesia types and options
  • Possible orders for studies such as blood tests, an electrocardiogram (ECG) or a chest X-ray (CXR)
  • A review of general preoperative instructions
  • Directions on eating and drinking before surgery
  • 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 integrated pain-relief medications and 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.

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 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


La Jolla