Cosmetic Surgery Preparation Tips

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Valerie DeBenedette, Senior Medical Editor

Valerie DeBenedette is a science writer who specializes in keeping people informed about medicine and their health. She has more than 20 years of experience writing for newspapers, magazines, and websites and has written about most areas of medicine. For many years, she was a contributing writer to Cosmetic Dermatology and to Drug Topics, the leading pharmacy trade magazine. She also was a contributing editor to The Physician and Sportsmedicine for many years. She has written about most fields of medicine, including dermatology, sportsmedicine, ophthalmology, general surgery, orthopedics, and women's health; as well as public health policy and the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, she is the author of Caffeine, a book for young people. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers.


September 17 2007

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You will need to do a few things in preparation for your cosmetic surgery. Some of these steps are necessary to prepare for the actual surgery and some are just for your convenience during the recovery period after your surgery. Try to be as prepared as possible before the surgery so that you can relax and heal comfortably afterward.

Tests before Cosmetic Surgery

Your surgeon will give you a list of tests that you need to undergo before your surgery. This list may or may not include blood tests, an electrocardiogram, and a chest x-ray. These tests are used to screen you for any problems such as infections, abnormal blood sugar levels, and heart problems.
You should have these tests done a week or two before your surgery, but make sure the results are available in time for your surgery. Your surgeon will give you the names of a hospital, clinic, or laboratory to go to for the tests. Make sure that the results will go to your surgeon.

For some surgeries that are more extensive in nature, such as a full abdominoplasty, your surgeon may suggest that you bank one or two pints of blood. This way, if you need a transfusion during your surgery, they can give you your own blood. As with the presurgical tests, you need to do this a week or two before your surgery.

Preparing Yourself for Cosmetic Surgery

If you smoke, stop smoking. Smoking seriously interferes with healing. If you can't stop smoking, at least cut back as much as possible.

Eat a good, balanced diet that contains fruits and vegetables. Take a vitamin C supplement if you can't eat fresh fruits and vitamins before your surgery.

Avoid alcoholic drinks for a few days before your surgery.

Do not take aspirin or other blood thinning drugs for at least a week before your surgery. This includes drugs that are similar to aspirin, such as ibuprofen, but acetaminophen (Tylenol) is okay, since it is not a blood thinner. Your surgeon may advise you to stop taking these products—or other drugs, supplements, or herbal products—more than a week before your surgery.

Make sure that your boss and others in your workplace understand how long you will be out from work and whether you will have any limitations when you get back.

If you will be staying in the hospital for a day or two, pack a bag. What you pack could include your glasses, pajamas and a robe or dressing gown, an eye mask to help you fall asleep, some reading material, toiletries, phone numbers of people you want to call, an IPod or Walkman, and a wristwatch. Do not bring any valuables, jewelry, or anything that you would be heartbroken to lose while in the hospital.

Get enough sleep and exercise in the days leading up to your surgery. This will help relieve stress and build up your strength.

Try to relax.

Preparing Your Home

Make arrangements for the care of your children and pets. You may be very limited in what you can do after your cosmetic surgery, so make arrangements to have some help around the house then, too.

If you are going to be in the hospital, arrange to have your mail collected and your plants watered.

Clean your house or have it cleaned in advance. You will not feel up to housecleaning for several days after even minor surgery. Do the laundry in advance and change the sheets so that you come home to a nice clean bed.

Head to the grocery store and stock up on food, including easy-to-prepare meals or frozen dinners, or you can cook a few meals in advance and freeze them. Make sure you have enough of life's other little necessities, like toilet paper.

If you will be taking antibiotics or pain relievers after your cosmetic surgery, fill the prescriptions in advance. Having them on hand will save you from making a trip to the pharmacy when you are sore and tired. Similarly, if you have to change dressings on your incisions, stock up on the types of bandaging you will need. Your surgeon can advise you on what kind to buy.

If you will need to wear a compression post-surgical garment after your surgery, buy that in advance. Your surgeon may provide one for you, or he or she can tell you what kind to get.