Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Preparing for surgery

If you’re going to have surgery, it’s good to be prepared. You should find out about what your surgery will involve, your medicines, getting to and from the hospital and your care when you go home after your surgery.

The days leading up to your surgery

Make sure you know exactly what your operation is for, what it is expected to do for you and the risks involved.

You might have a general anaesthetic, a local anaesthetic, light sedation or something else. Be sure you know what your doctors plan to do and what you might need to do to prepare. Ask your doctor about the anaesthetic – you might not meet the anaesthetist until the day of the operation.

If you take medicines regularly, discuss them with your doctor. It’s important to know whether or not you should take them as usual or delay them.

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including complementary or alternative medicines. You may need to stop taking some medicines, such as anti-inflammatory medicines and aspirin, before surgery. Discuss this with your doctor.

If you have diabetes, you need to develop a good plan with your doctors that involves what medicines to take and when to eat.

If you smoke, quit if possible. It will help your recovery, and reduce your risk of problems with anaesthetic.

If you drink alcohol every day, drink less before surgery. It will help with your healing and your recovery.

The day before surgery

If you’re having a general anaesthetic, you’ll need to avoid eating and drinking for some hours beforehand. You can often drink water, black tea, coffee, or pulp-free fruit juice for up to 2 hours beforehand. Check with your doctor.

You’ll be able to take most medicines with a sip of water up to 2 hours beforehand. Check with your doctor.

You should plan how you’re going to get to hospital and get home. It’s best to ask family or a friend to help you get home and to help you at home afterwards.

After surgery

Ask your doctor how long you’ll be expected to stay in hospital after the operation. Some people need only a few hours before they can go home while others will be in for a few days or more. A few will be told they’ll wake up after surgery in an intensive care unit. It depends on the type of surgery, the type of anaesthetic, and your health.

Pain is a significant problem after surgery. Don’t be a hero. Tell your doctors and nurses if you have pain.

Some people will need rehabilitation after surgery, either to get their strength back or to help with the particular problem that the surgery has dealt with. You can have rehabilitation treatment at home or in a rehabilitation unit. Talk to your doctor.

Depending on the type of surgery, there might be some things you can’t do for a while. You might not be allowed to drive, you might find it hard to work, you might find it hard to look after yourself. It’s good to talk these things through with your doctor before the surgery so you can plan to solve problems in advance.

Getting back to normal life can take time. You might be more tired than you expect. Go easy on yourself and accept help that’s offered.

More information

Learn more about:

Last reviewed: October 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 2603 results

Caring for your broken limb before surgery

Information about caring for a broken limb before surgery

Read more on WA Health website

Blood Clotting: Assessment Before Surgery | myVMC

Adequate blood clotting is very important if you are about to have a surgical procedure. Modern surgical techniques have resulted in an overall decrease in significant bleeding, but there has been an increase in blood clotting abnormalities that develop after exposure to an agent or compound. The increasing complexity of surgical and other invasive procedures has also presented challenges for the prevention of bleeding.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Cosmetic Surgery: Making a Decision | myVMC

All people considering having cosmetic surgery must weigh up the potential risks and benefits of the surgery as well as their personal circumstances. It is important to talk to health professionals and obtain information about the risks and benefits of plastic surgery.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic surgery carries risks and, in some cases, the results are not what you may anticipate.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Cancer treatment

Your treatment will depend on the type of cancer you have, where it began and whether it has spread to other parts of your body.

Read more on WA Health website

Surgery for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Surgery in adults with OSA should only be a last resort. As a rule, it is only worth it if you can’t wear CPAP (despite persistent effort) or use an Oral Appliance.

Read more on Sleep Health Foundation website

Gastric Banding | myVMC

Gastric banding is a proven weightloss technique. Here we look at Gastric banding, how it works, benefits and risks of Gastric banding.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Surgery - Cancer Council Victoria

On this page: What is surgery? | How is surgery used for cancer? | What other treatments might I have? | How is surgery done? | Will I stay in hospital? | What is a surgical margin? | Can surgery spread the cancer? | What questions should I ask?

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Surgery for Weight Loss | myVMC

Severalsurgical techniques have been used to treat obesity including gastric bypass, gastroplasty, gastric banding and liposuction.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Planned or elective caesarean

Caesareans are often planned before the birth for medical reasons or because the mother chooses. Consider the following if you are planning to have a caesarean.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback