It's the day before your surgery


You have spent many weeks going to appointments, preparing your home, and getting as healthy as possible. Now it is time for your surgery. You may feel relieved, excited, or nervous at this point.

Taking care of these last-minute details will help make your surgery more successful.


You were told to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot 1 to 2 weeks before surgery. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and others. If you were taking blood thinners, you should stop these according to your surgeon's request. You may need to stop taking other drugs right before surgery.

Take only the medicines your doctor or anesthesiologist told you to take before surgery. This includes prescription medicines. If you are confused about which medicines to take on the night before or the day of surgery, ask your doctor.

DO NOT take any supplements, herbs, vitamins, or minerals before surgery unless your doctor told you it was okay.

Bring a list of all your medicines to the hospital. This includes ones your doctor prescribed, or ones that you bought yourself. Include the ones that you were told to stop taking before surgery. Make sure you write down the dosage and how often you take each one.

Washing your body

You may be asked to take at least two showers or baths -- one the night before and the other on the morning of your surgery. You may be asked to start doing this up to 4 days before your surgery.

Your health care provider may give you a special medicated soap to use. Follow the directions on the container for this soap. Be sure to rinse well. DO NOT use this soap on your hair and face.

If you did not get special soap, use an antibacterial soap such as Dial or another brand that you can buy at the store.

Eating and drinking before surgery

Your provider will tell you what you may eat and drink on both the day before and the morning of your surgery. If you do not follow their directions exactly, your surgery could be canceled. You might have an impulse to eat regular food the day before surgery, but you absolutely should not do that. Do not smoke.

You may be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight. In other hospitals you may drink up to 2 hours prior to your arrival time.

You may brush your teeth and rinse your mouth in the morning. DO NOT swallow the rinse water. If you were told to take any medicines on the morning of surgery, you may take them with a sip of water.

Symptoms to report

Tell your surgeon if you have any of these symptoms on the day of your surgery:

  • New skin rashes or skin infections (including herpes)
  • Cold symptoms
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Urinary burning

What to bring to the hospital

Clothes and shoes:

  • Flat walking shoes with nonskid soles, such as rubber or crepe
  • Shorts or sweatpants
  • T-shirt
  • Lightweight bathrobe

Clothes to wear when you go home (sweat suit or something that is easy to put on and take off) and personal care items:

  • Eyeglasses instead of contact lenses if at all possible
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant
  • Razor (electric only)

Assistive devices, if you use them:

  • Crutches, cane, or walker
  • CPAP machine -- your family should bring this to the hospital the evening of your surgery

Other items you may want to bring:

  • A small amount of money
  • Books and magazines
  • Telephone numbers of friends and relatives
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Writing paper and pen

What to leave at home

Leave your valuables at home, including expensive jewelry. Bring just enough money to pay for prescriptions you may need and small items from the gift shop.

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Review Date: 1/30/2018

Reviewed By: John E. Meilahn, MD, Bariatric Surgery, Chestnut Hill Surgical Associates, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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