The decision to have surgery is a significant one and preparing as best you can for your surgery will help you in your recovery.
Your doctor will work with you to make sure you are well informed of the procedure and what to expect. It is important you raise any questions or concerns with your doctor to help ease your mind and prepare both mentally and physically for surgery.
Your doctor will usually refer you for routine blood tests and x-rays around a week prior to your surgery.
Certain lifestyle risk factors can slow your healing following your surgery. In preparation for your recovery aim to:
- Eat healthy – a healthy balanced diet will help your cells prepare for healing
- Quit smoking – smoking causes your blood vessels to constrict, reducing the amount of blood to your tissues. A good blood supply is needed for your body to heal and recover from surgery.
- Limit alcohol intake – alcohol contains toxins and is dehydrating. It is best limited or avoided prior to surgery.
- Reduce weight if overweight – additional weight can put stress on your joints.
- Exercise – this should be done on the advice of your doctor or physiotherapist. Good conditioning of the muscles surrounding the joint to be operated on will help your recovery.
To reduce the complication of infection after your surgery:
- Have any tooth or gum pain and infection treated well in advance of your surgery
- Any medical conditions such as urinary infections or bowel problems should be treated before surgery.
- If you have any infections including skin infections prior to your surgery you will need to inform your surgeon and have these treated before surgery.
Blood thinning medications can cause excessive bleeding following your surgery. Your surgeon will discuss with your which of your medications you will need to stop taking before your surgery. Generally your doctor will advise you to:
- Stop taking warfarin, aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications one week before surgery
- Stop taking herbal (homeopathic) medications prior to surgery as these can interact negatively with anaesthetic and pain medication and other medications you might require during your surgery or recovery.
- Fish Oil and Turmeric supplements use for arthritic pain can also cause increased bleeding and should be stopped 10 days prior to surgery
Arrangements should be made in advance to prepare for your recovery once discharged from hospital including:
- Ensuring your home is free from tripping hazards such as loose carpets or electric cords
- Ensuring regularly used items are easily accessible
- Arranging to have someone at home with you or to check in on you when you are discharged
- Arranging to have some one help you with everyday household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping and laundry
- If you are having hip or knee surgery, make sure you have a firm chair with 2 arms and a firm back, and ensures your hips are not lower than your knees
- You may also require equipment such as a toilet seat raiser and shower chair
Day of surgery
You will usually be admitted to hospital on the day of your surgery or the day before. You will be asked a number of questions and be required to fill in some forms. It is important you bring your x-rays and scans and other test results with you. An anaethetist will discuss your past medical history and any problems with past anaesthetics. A nurse will help you prepare for your surgery and accompany you to the operating suites.
For day procedures you will be able to go home when you have fully recovered from your anaesthetic and had something to eat and drink. You will need to have someone drive you home.
If you are have joint replacement surgery or other surgery requiring you to stay in hospital, you will be taken to your ward when you are awake and your pain is under control. You may stay in hospital for up to a week depending on the type of operation. This time allows the hospital staff to make sure you are safe and comfortable before discharge.
During this time you should expect:
- Staff will monitor your fluid intake and output. You may have an IV cannula to deliver fluids, antibiotics and pain medication.
- Any drips and drains in your wound from your surgery will be removed on your surgeon’s advice, usually 24 hours after your surgery.
- Your wound will be covered with a large heavy dressing. Sutures are usually dissolvable, but if not, sutures will need to be removed around 10 days after surgery. Your dressing will need to remain intact and dry until the wound has healed. You will not be able to shower until the dressing has been removed and replaced with a waterproof dressing.
- A physiotherapist will visit you regularly during your hospital stay to help you get moving and provide you with exercises for you to do at home. Your exercise regime will begin as soon as you are possible after surgery. You will be given equipment such as walking frames or crutches as required.
- It is important that you watch for signs of infection. If you are having procedures such as dental work or other surgery, you should consult your surgeon who may recommend you take antibiotics before and after your procedure to prevent infection in your new prosthesis.
You will be discharged home with medication for your pain and other medications as specified by your doctor. You will need someone to drive you home. You will have a follow up appointment booked with your surgeon once discharged.
Your new prosthesis may cause the metal detector to alarm at airports. A letter from your doctor may be required prior to travel.