Getting Ready for Surgery: What to Expect

We imagine that you will have a lot of questions about how getting ready for your procedure or surgery and what you can expect. We have answered common questions patients have below:

  • Follow instructions for what you can and cannot eat and drink.
  • Do not drink alcoholic drinks or smoke 24 hours before your surgery.
  • Do not shave near the place where you will have surgery.
  • Complete any special skin care instructions. Do not put any lotion, moisturizer or makeup on your body or use hair care products.
  • Brush your teeth the morning of your surgery, do not swallow any water.
  • Follow all instructions from your doctor and your anesthesiologist including if you should take your medications. If you do take medicine, use only small sips of water.
  • Wear comfortable clothing on the day of your surgery.
  • Leave all jewelry and valuables at home.
  • Bring these items with you:
    • Photo ID and all insurance cards.
    • Patient medical history for anesthesia form, including a list of all your medications. Fill out before you arrive.
    • Instruction sheet for getting your skin ready for surgery.
    • Copy of any tests done outside of UChicago Medicine that you did not already give to your doctor or anesthesiologist.
    • Copy of your durable power of attorney for health care or living will if you have one.
    • Any questions you want to ask your doctor. Bring something to write down important information you do not want to forget.
    • Cases for your glasses, contacts or dentures as needed.

Call If You Are Sick or Cannot Come for Your Procedure or Surgery

If you get a cold or the flu or cannot come to surgery, call the office right away to reschedule or cancel your procedure or surgery appointment: 773-795-4608.

Most patients are discharged to go home on the day of the procedure or surgery or at 12 noon the day after. Whenever you go home, you will not be able to drive or take public transportation alone. You will need an adult to take you home or travel with you.

If you have sedation or anesthesia, an adult will need to be with you to get instructions for what you will need to do at home. You will need a responsible person to stay with you for 24 hours after surgery.

If you do not have anesthesia, we must be able to contact someone by phone to have them pick you up. We will need to have their contact information when you check in.

It is very important to arrive on time. You will not go directly into surgery. It will take some time to get you ready for your procedure or surgery and to see the team.

How long you stay at the hospital depends on many things such as the kind of procedure or surgery you are having and your overall health. Some patients are admitted to the hospital after your procedure or surgery and others will go home the same day.

Anesthesia is a medicine to make you feel comfortable during your procedure or surgery. Your doctor will decide what kind of anesthesia you will need.

  • One kind of anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during your procedure or surgery. This can be given from an IV, breathed in from a mask or from a tube placed in your throat.
  • Another kind of anesthesia will just numb the body area where the procedure or surgery will be done. When the area is numb you do not feel any pain and you are awake during the procedure or  surgery.

Tell us if you or anyone in your family has ever had a problem with anesthesia.

Surgical site infections after your procedure or surgery are possible in the part of your body where the treatment took place. Most patients who have a procedure or surgery do not get an infection.

  • You may be given a special cleaning cloth to be used at home the night before and the morning of the procedure or surgery. The cleaning cloth kills germs in the area where you will have a procedure or surgery. At the time of your surgery we will also have this body area cleaned using a special soap that kills germs.
  • Depending on the kind of procedure or surgery, we may give you antibiotics before treatment starts.
  • Some of your hair may be removed right before your procedure or surgery using electric clippers if the hair is in the same area where the procedure or surgery will be.
  • Will wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after caring for each patient.
  • Will wash their hands and arms up to their elbows (surgical scrub) with an antiseptic agent just before the procedure or surgery.
  • Wears special hair covers, masks, gowns and gloves during the procedure or surgery to keep the area clean.

On the day of your procedure or surgery your family or visitors can wait in the patient reception area when they are not with you. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult who is not the patient.

The patient reception area has large electronic information screens that track your progress from one area to another. Additionally, your family or visitors will receive a pager so our staff can reach them when needed.

Once you are ready for the procedure or surgery, one to two visitors can stay with you in the holding area until you go into surgery.

Your doctor will talk with your family after your procedure or surgery. One to two visitors may be able to see you in the recovery room when you are awake and ready for visitors.

Visiting hours are 24 hours a day as long as it does not get in the way of patient care and safety.

The hours and number of visitors can change depending on the unit you are in and your needs. Intensive care units limit visitors to two at one time.

If you are the parent or guardian of a child having a procedure or surgery, you must be here for your child whenever you are needed and when they wake up.