How to prepare for your surgery
Updated: Mar 28
Well, you decided to go ahead with your operation. What can you do to make it a good experience with a smooth recovery and good outcome? You need to see yourself as part of the team on a mission to solve your problem be it a worn hip or a torn ligament. There is good evidence to show that if you are engaged with the process you are more likely to have a good outcome after any medical intervention. Let's see how you can prepare so you can achieve your goals.
It's all in the mind
Maybe not all, but it is crucial how we think. A positive, can do attitude always helps overcome inevitable setbacks. The more you know about your condition and the treatment the more meaningful your engagement will be. The single most important predictor of a successful outcome is a realistic expectation. If you want be able to walk a few miles a day, play a few rounds of golf every week and have good night sleep all without pain then you will be happy after your hip replacement. If you expect to resume your semi-professional football career after having a new knee, you are likely to be disappointed. You have to be honest with yourself and your doctor about what your goals are so you can ask the right questions and get good advice.
Preparing the body
Although you will be limited by your joint pain it is important that you exercise and remain as mobile as you can before your operation. Keeping the muscles working and joints reasonably flexible will go a long way ensuring a smoother and quicker recovery. The better your overall fitness is the less likely you have an anaesthetic complication too.
If you suffer from any chronic condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or a heart problem you need to make sure they are under control. Your GP can do all the necessary checks, adjust your medication if needed or refer you to a specialist.
If you have a bad tooth you need to see your dentist prior to joint replacement surgery. Bacteria from a lingering infection around the root can get into the blood stream and cause infection around the implant.
A lot of older people are a bit anaemic which does not cause any symptoms in day to day life, but could become a problem after an operation when you may loose more blood. Discuss this with your GP and if there is no contraindication we recommend taking iron supplements for a few months before major surgery. This is not necessary for keyhole knee or hand operations.
It is time to consider stopping smoking. By doing so you can reduce the risk of complications such as a chest infection, heart attack, wound healing problems and infection.
Loose weight if you are overweight. This BMI calculator tells you if you have work to do on this front. By reducing your weight you also reduce the risk of complications and make it easier for your surgeon to carry out the operation through a smaller incision. Eating a healthy balanced diet ensures you have all the nutrients on board so your body can cope better with the stress of surgery and heal quicker.
Choose the right source of information
It is only natural to be thirsty for information when you are awaiting something as important as a surgical procedure. Good quality information can help you make the right decisions and engage with your own health. The internet provides a wealth of advice but unfortunately not all of it is sound. From genuine misunderstanding to downright misinformation on websites promoting magic cures to well meaning but inevitably biased patient fora you can drown in information that is not necessarily accurate or relevant to your situation. As medicine is not an exact subject and there are debates among surgeons over many aspects of our field even advice from health care professionals can be contradicting. I would suggest you choose your surgeon and their team and stick with their advice. If you trust them to carry out your surgery you should also trust them with your questions and listen to what they say. This does not mean you should not challenge them with your questions, but they are best placed to put other bits of information in perspective and put your mind at rest.
I hope you found this post helpful and your surgery will go smoothly. For further information on the Ramsay preoperative information watch the presentation below.