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Most people go through a series of emotions after being told they will need surgery for something. Depending on how major the situation is, patients will need to prepare both physically and mentally for the experience that awaits them. If it is a first-time experience, that can be even more of a challenge since the unknown is a scary place to be. Here are some tips for preparing ahead of time for your first surgery.

Depending on how much time you have to prepare, it’s important to be in the best possible shape beforehand. This includes getting plenty of sleep, drinking liquids, exercising and stretching, and trying to maintain a stress-free lifestyle as much as possible. There are also ways to prepare mentally. Knowledge breeds power. Instead of stepping blindly into a fearful unknown, educate yourself on the procedure ahead of time. Ask questions if you don’t fully understand the details. The more information you are armed with, the more in control you will be of your own body. This is a very empowering feeling. 

It is important that you read all of the pre-operative instructions issued by your doctor. The success of most surgeries is a collaboration between you and your medical team. If you are instructed to avoid taking any medication the day of your surgery or to avoid specific foods beforehand, it is very important that you do it. No matter how proficient your doctor may be, your success during both the operation and recovery depends on your help.

Most people don’t realize that anesthesia is a whole separate part of a procedure, including an anesthesiologist who may be a foreign face until moments before surgery. Learn ahead of time what general anesthesia entails, including the risks, and ask your anesthesiologist any questions you may have. In addition to people not being familiar with the feeling of going under, there might be other unexpected elements to surgery, such as the temperature of the operating room as you are wheeled in. Typically, operating rooms are around 70 degrees to keep the surgeon comfortable, but it can be surprising to the patient when they are first wheeled in. It is perfectly ok to ask for a blanket before going under.