The day of your surgery - adult

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Alternate Names

Same day surgery - adult; Surgical procedure - adult


Learn about what to expect on the day of surgery. You will feel better if you are prepared. 

The doctor’s office will let you know what time you should arrive on the day of surgery. Expect the time to arrive may be early in the morning.

  • If you are having minor surgery, you will go home afterward on the same day.
  • If you are having major surgery, you will stay in the hospital after the surgery. Talk to your doctor to know what to expect.

What to Expect Before Surgery

The anesthesia and surgery team will talk with you before surgery. You may meet with them at an appointment before the actual day of surgery or on the same day of surgery. Expect them to: 

  • Ask you about your health. If you are sick, they may delay your surgery.
  • Go over your health history. 
  • Find out about any medicines you take. Tell them about any prescription, over the counter, and herbal medicines you take.
  • Talk to you about the anesthesia you will get for your surgery. 
  • Answer any of your questions. Bring paper and pen to write down notes. Ask about your surgery, recovery, and pain management.
  • Find out about insurance and payment for your surgery and anesthesia. 

You will need to sign admission papers and consent forms for surgery and anesthesia. Bring these items to make it easier:

  • Insurance card
  • Prescription card
  • Identification card (driver’s license)
  • Any medicine in the original bottles
  • X-rays and test results
  • Money to pay for any new prescriptions

What to Expect on the Day of Surgery

At home on the day of surgery: 

  • Do not eat or drink anything.
  • If your doctor told you to take any medicine on the day of surgery, take it with a small sip of water.
  • Brush your teeth or rinse your mouth but spit out all of the water. 
  • Take a shower or bath. Do not use any deodorant, powder, lotion, perfume, aftershave, or makeup.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing and flat shoes. 
  • Take off any jewelry. Remove any body piercings.
  • Do not wear contact lenses. If you wear glasses, bring a case for them. 

Here’s what to bring and what to leave at home:

  • Leave all valuables at home. 
  • Bring any special medical equipment that you use (such as CPAP, a walker, or a cane) 

Plan to arrive at your surgery unit at the scheduled time. You may need to arrive up to 2 hours before your surgery. 

The staff will prepare you for surgery. They will ask you to:

  • Change into a gown, cap, and paper slippers
  • Put an ID bracelet around your wrist
  • State your name, your birthday, and the surgery you are having
  • Have an IV put in
  • Have your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate checked

What to Expect After Surgery

You will go to the recovery room after surgery. How long you stay there depends on the surgery you had, your anesthesia, and how fast you wake up. If you are going home, you will be discharged after:

  • You can drink water, juice, or soda 
  • You have received instructions for a follow-up appointment with your doctor, any new prescription medicines you need to take, and what activities you can or cannot do when you get home 

If you are staying at the hospital, you will be transferred to a patient room. The nurses there will:

  • Check your vital signs 
  • Check your pain level. If you are having pain, the nurse will give you pain medicine
  • Give any other medicine you need
  • Encourage you to drink if liquids are allowed

What to Expect Going Home

  • Have a responsible adult with you to get you home safely. You cannot drive yourself home after surgery. You can take a bus or cab if there is someone with you. 
  • Limit your activity to inside the house for at least 24 hours after your surgery.
  • Do not drive for at least 24 hours after your surgery. If you are taking narcotics, talk to your doctor about when you can drive.
  • Take your medicine as prescribed.
  • Follow the instructions from your doctor about your activities.


Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 7/25/2012
  • Joshua Kunin, MD, Consulting Colorectal Surgeon, Zichron Yaakov, Israel. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

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