Before Surgery: Five Important Ways To Prepare

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

If you’re planning to have surgery in the coming weeks or months, there are five important steps you can take right now that will help to ensure the best possible result. Taking each step as soon as you think you may need to have surgery — at least two weeks in advance — can go a long way to optimize the outcome, explains surgeon Patrick Larreategui, DO.

  1. Boost your nutrition. It’s probably the best determinant of surgical outcome, says Dr. Larreategui. “At least two weeks prior to surgery, focus on eating nutrient-dense, non-processed foods, and unrefined carbohydrates,” he says. Meat, vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries are good examples. “Eat food that doesn’t come in a box or a bag. Food that doesn’t have a nutritional label.” Such foods typically are found along the outer edges of the grocery store, not in the center aisles, he explains.
  2. Avoid added sugar. If you go into surgery with elevated blood sugar levels, your risk of surgical infections is doubled, Dr. Larreategui warns. “Elevated blood sugar also can lead to inflammation that gets in the way of healing.” To keep your blood sugar level in a healthy range, avoid sugar-laden foods like candy, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and sugar-sweetened drinks including juices, sports drinks, and soda.
  3. Don’t smoke. Smoking significantly decreases your body’s ability to heal following surgery. “You really want to focus on quitting smoking, or at the very least, decreasing smoking prior to surgery,” Dr. Larreategui recommends. “Smoking also increases your risk of complications from anesthesia, and can increase your chances of developing bronchitis or pneumonia following surgery.”
  4. Hydrate your body. Think of surgery like running a marathon, says Dr. Larreategui. “Your body is under a tremendous amount of stress, even for minor surgeries. And during that time, you’re burning a lot of water due to the demand for energy that surgery requires. You want to be as hydrated as possible.” This means drinking lots of water as well as eliminating alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you. “Pre-surgery guidelines have changed. You now can drink water up to two hours before surgery, which is different than the previous guidelines that had you stopping at midnight prior to your procedure.”
  5. Review your medications. Some medications and supplements can be harmful if taken before surgery. That’s why it’s important that you consult with your surgeon. This not only includes all prescription medications, but also over-the counter medications, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. Your surgeon may tell you to stop taking some or all of them so they don’t interfere with the procedure. “On the flip side, there are some medications that your surgeon may want you to continue taking,” says Dr. Larreategui. “Some of them can actually have a positive impact on the outcome.” Be sure to have this important conversation in advance of the date of your procedure.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, and wound infections are just some of the complications you may be able to avoid by taking these five steps. One final bit of pre-surgery advice: a positive attitude. “There is no doubt that people who come to surgery with a positive attitude do better,” reports Dr. Larreategui.

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.