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Prepare Yourself for Surgery in 5 Easy Steps


Surgical glovesTrue or False? The patient puts his or her complete trust in the skills and expertise of the surgeon and has no control over the surgical outcome.

The answer is False.

While a patient does not have any control over what happens during surgery, they do have the ability to affect the surgical outcome. The recovery process is often easier and faster and infections and certain complications can be avoided if the patient takes the following steps before surgery even begins.

1. Maintain a healthy diet

Certain amino acids help wounds heal more quickly. Be sure to add the following ingredients to your meals before – and especially after – surgery:

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Egg whites
  • Brown rice
  • Vegetables

The following nutrient-rich snacks also promote healing:

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cereal fortified with Zinc
  • Orange juice
  • Any fruit

After surgery, choose a multivitamin that contains B12 and iron, both of which aid in forming new blood cells. The amino acid glutamine is said to significantly aid in healing as well. Consult your doctor to find out if this supplement is right for you.

2. Avoid certain medications

Certain medications can increase bleeding and the risk for complications during surgery. Consult with your doctor to find out which medications you should stop taking. Generally, you should not take the following medications within one to two weeks before surgery:

  • Aspirin
  • Plavix
  • Ticlid (Ticlopidine)
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Herbal medicines

3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

One of the smartest rules to follow before surgery is to avoid alcohol and smoking. Both can have unpredictable effects on anesthesia and can cause excessive bleeding. Stop drinking and smoking at least one month prior to surgery to reduce your risk of complications.

4. Mentally prepare

An associate professor from Stanford University School of Medicine, said it best: “The strain in pain lies mainly in the brain.” In a well-controlled study published in August 2007, researchers reported that just 15 minutes of hypnosis an hour before surgery significantly reduced patients’ need for intraoperative anesthesia. Those who were hypnotized also reported less post surgical pain and fewer side effects than the unhypnotized group.

Meditating or listening to calming music before surgery has also been proven to calm the nerves and consequently reduce pain after surgery.

5. Set up a “triage”

With most invasive procedures, pain, swelling, and limited mobility are an understood part of the recovery process for at least the first 24 hours after surgery. This is a time for rest and relaxation. Take a moment to choose a place in your home that will serve as your personal triage. Cold compresses, medications, bandages, pillows, blankets, snacks, drinks, and – let’s not forget – the remote control, should all be within close proximity to your triage.

To minimize swelling, the surgical site should be elevated above the heart. For example, a facelift or breast augmentation patient should choose a triage location that allows them to rest in the upright position. Many patients are more comfortable in a recliner, but elevating the upper body with plenty of pillows can be just as effective.

The triage area should also be complete with your own personal assistant during the initial recovery period. Make arrangements for someone to tend to the following duties after your procedure:

  • Drive you home
  • Make sure you take any prescribed medications
  • Assist you if you need to get up or change your clothes
  • Monitor your food and water intake
  • Make sure you are comfortable

The surest way to a fast recovery is to plan ahead. Follow these simple steps, and you may significantly improve the outcome of your procedure.

If you are interested in any cosmetic surgery in the San Francisco Bay Area, please contact our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Kimberly Henry. Dr. Henry has years of experience performing many different cosmetic surgery procedures to the face, breasts, and body and can help you obtain the look you desire. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Henry by calling (415) 924-1313 or filling out our online consultation form today.

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Dr. Henry is dedicated to helping her clients feel gorgeous, sexy, and confident

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