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Being prepared for surgery can reduce stress and lead to a better outcome. Use these 11 tips to get ready for your operation.

When you're on the operating table, your life is in the hands of your surgery team. That doesn't mean you can't take steps on your own, though, to assure the best outcome.

Most surgeries are not emergencies. So, most people will have time to work with their doctors to prepare for a safe surgery.

What actions you take before you have your surgery can affect how well your surgery and recovery go. Your doctor may have more suggestions for you based on your personal needs and the type of procedure you're having.

In the weeks leading up to your operation:

Learn about the procedure. Having surgery is stressful on both the body and mind. Knowing what to expect during and after an operation will help put your mind at ease. Ask your doctor:
    How surgery will improve your quality of life.
    About possible complications. No surgery is risk-free.
    If it's an inpatient or outpatient procedure. Inpatient means you need to stay in the hospital for one or more days. Outpatient means you go home the same day of the operation.
    What to expect during the recovering period.
Get a second opinion. Many surgeries are elective procedures. A second opinion can help you decide if surgery is right for you. Ask your doctor if a less invasive treatment is available. Be sure you understand what would happen if you don't have the surgery.
Discuss anesthesia choices with your anesthesiologist (doctor in charge of monitoring your vital signs during surgery). You may have a say in your anesthesia options depending on your surgery and health status:
    General anesthesia makes you unconscious.
    Regional and local anesthesia numbs a small area of your body. You stay awake during the procedure but are often given medication to help you relax while remaining pain-free.
Quit smoking. Stop smoking at least two weeks before surgery. If you don't have two weeks before the procedure, still quit. Any period of not smoking is helpful before surgery. Smokers have a greater risk for complications during surgery and a more difficult recovery.
Ask your doctor how you should get ready for surgery. Your doctor may want to do a physical on you or perform tests. He or she will also let you know if you need to:
    Stop taking certain medications.
    Take new medicines to get ready for surgery.
    Follow a special diet. Some people may need to take iron supplements.
    Store blood. Blood loss can occur during major surgery. Sometimes the loss may be great enough that you'll need blood to replenish the loss. Your doctor may want you to donate and store blood before your operation in case you need it.
    Take special precautions if you have an existing medical condition like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Mind your health. Surgery takes a major toll on the body. It's best to be in top shape before your procedure. So get plenty of sleep, eat well and exercise regularly with your doctor's permission. Let your doctor know if you feel sick in the days leading up to surgery.
Plan for the recovery period. Being prepared for what will happen after surgery can help keep your mind at ease while you recuperate:
    Understand your treatment plan. Know when you can return to normal activities.
    Have all medications on hand, if possible.
    Schedule follow-up doctor appointments.

The day of surgery:

Do not eat or drink anything. Your doctor may ask you to fast for eight hours or longer. Let your doctor know if you do eat something before surgery.
Only bring what you need to the hospital. You'll need identification, insurance cards and maybe an overnight bag. Leave all valuables at home. You will be asked to remove jewelry, glasses or contact lenses, dentures, hearing aids, nail polish, makeup and hair accessories. If possible, do not wear these items to the hospital. A family member or close friend could keep your glasses or hearing aid safe until you are out of the procedure.
Carefully read the informed consent form. Make sure that everything on the form - your name, type of surgery - is correct before you sign. If you have any questions, speak up before signing.
Make sure the correct spot on your body is marked. A doctor or nurse will draw on your body to indicate the surgery site. Make sure this is right. Having the wrong surgery is rare, but it can happen.

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