Are You Ready For Surgery? by Dr. Sando
RU physically ready?
Have you been losing weight? Do you need to be at your “fighting weight,” i.e. at target? No. If you can get down to within 15-20 pounds of target, then your skin tone should tolerate these changes without much loosening after surgery. Having a tummy tuck should be the reward for weight loss, but not the kick-off.
Have you been feeling healthy? Frequent sore throats, sinus, or bladder infections are not a safe time to be undergoing breast augmentation as germs can travel in the bloodstream and cause mischief with the foreign material of an implant. Thinking of quitting cigarette-smoking? One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is seeing patients make the choice of themselves (successful cosmetic surgery) over deadly nicotine. You can do it!! Talk to us for recommendations in how to quit. It is well known that nicotine can create disastrous wound-healing or infection, or anesthetic complications. It squeezes down the tiny blood vessels that carry nutrition to skin. Ideally, you should be nicotine-free for eight weeks before undergoing cosmetic surgery. Don’t short-cut! How about herbals? Many can cause under general anesthesia problems ranging from heart rhythm problems, to bleeding, to excessively high blood pressure. Anesthesia doctors request two weeks off herbals before surgery. Non-steroidal medications (Aspirin, Aleve, Ibuprofen), high dose Vitamin E, and fish oil supplements can make you bleed. It is best to halt their use at least one week before surgery. Do you have any other smoldering health issues – diabetes, high blood pressure, history of vein clots or easy bruising, pesky asthma? – be sure to discuss in advance with your surgeon.
RU emotionally ready? Have you enjoyed some calm, or have you been stressed out in a relationship that has gone south, lost a loved one, been locked in a bad job situation, or just recovered from an accident or bad illness? Elective surgery, although highly rewarding, still is real surgery, and always has some emotional stress wrapped up in the early recovery. Your community of family and friends should be a supportive network, or an emotional catch net for any blue days that may visit after an operation. You deserve to be pampered during this time…we all need cheerleaders. Moreover, any recent or distant psychological counseling, bouts of depression, or the need for anti-anxiety or anti-depressive mediation should be shared with your surgeon. Remember also that privacy about your health should be respected, but you should not withhold from loved ones your plans to undergo a big operation if you will be relying on their help in your recovery.
RU logistically ready? Most major procedures need 1-2 weeks off-work recovery time. For specifics talk with your surgeon in advance. You can expect less-than-normal energy levels for 4-6 weeks coupled with not-so-good sleep for a couple of weeks after a procedure, particularly after an anesthetic, or an operation that dictates a change in your normal sleep position. Medications also can interrupt normal patterns. How about exercise, or even your regular job or leisure activities? You may be pleasantly surprised to find that you can do many activities. In fact early up and about is advised usually, as it preserves good venous return in the legs to prevent clots, promotes healthy breathing patterns, helps to metabolize lactic acid that painfully builds up in joints and muscles, and is beneficial in jump-starting bowel regularity. Traveling should be addressed in your planning as prolonged sitting during the first month after anesthetic can place you at increased risks for blood clots. How about swimming? Usually chlorinated pools, hot tubs, or city water in a shower are safe – lakes and oceans are not safe for unhealed wounds. Car driving needs full attention, not the “slow mo’” effects of narcotic meds. Many patients have family obligations; arrangements need to be made to get help. Older kids are often a great assistance, and yes, can be very sympathetic.
We lead such busy lives. At first blush they may seem to place barriers to arranging an event like elective surgery. However, with thoughtful planning, they are often just speed bumps. Simple awareness and recognition of these planning points will help you find that “right time.”