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Everything you need to know about preparing for your surgery

Watch these films to give you information about planning to come in for surgery.

Starting/stopping your medications
Stopping eating and drinking before surgery
Getting your health in check
Packing and preparing for your stay
Having someone to help you home
Preparing your home

Starting/stopping your medications

Please do not take any medicines on your operation day if your surgery is in the morning. If your surgery is in the afternoon, make sure you take all your morning medicines with a light breakfast at 6.30am unless the pre-assessment nurse tells you otherwise.

On the day of surgery:

  • follow the advice from the pre-assessment nurse about what medicines you should take
  • bring all you medicines with you to the hospital
  • the doctors or nurses will tell you which medicines to take and when

Stopping eating and drinking before surgery

Unless you have having a local anaesthetic, you have to stop eating and drinking for a period of time on your operation day so you can have your anaesthetic safely. But, you can help speed up your recovery if you keep your body energy stores and fluid levels up in the days before having surgery.

The day before surgery

If you are having bowel or weight loss surgery, you must follow the advice the surgical team give you.

For other surgery, you should eat and drink as normal. We recommend you have a carbohydrate-rich meal and a snack of about 100g of carbohydrate on the evening before your surgery.

The day of surgery

Eating: do not eat any food (including chewing gum and milk) for six hours before you come to the hospital for your surgery. Please do not eat after 2am if you surgery is in the morning.
Drinking: you may drink water, and if pre-assessment give you them, the two pre-operation (pre-op) supplement drinks, until two hours before your surgery. If you are coming to hospital for 7am, your surgery could be any time from 8:30, so you need to stop drinking by 6:30am.

What are preop drinks?

During your pre-assessment, you may be given two clear, sweet carbohydrate-rich drinks. These are called preOp and come in two x 200 ml cartons. The drinks:

  • give you energy to help you recover after surgery
  • reduce the risk of nausea (sickness)
  • help your wounds to heal

Remember, pre-op drinks are not the same as nutritional supplements such as Fresubin 2kcal and Complan – these are food and you should not take them six hours before surgery. Don’t take preop drinks if you have insulin dependent diabetes or delayed gastric emptying.

Getting your health in check

If you think you might need surgery, go to your GP, pharmacy or practice nurse to get your BP checked, and if you have diabetes, try and make sure it is well controlled. Eat and drink well in the lead up to your surgery, and give up smoking.

Make sure you have enough of the medicines you take regularly for your hospital stay and recovery time at home.

If you need to order more of your medicines or use a dosette box, ask for these from your GP a week before your surgery. This will help to avoid any delays when we discharge you.

The pre-assessment team will check you over and give you any further advice. If you are over 65 and have multiple medical problems, problems with your memory, or problems managing at home, you may be referred to another clinic before your operation in the Bryning Unit. There you would see a geriatrician and a physiotherapist or occupational therapist that can go through these issues and advise you on what to do before your operation.

Packing and preparing for your stay

  • Please shower or bathe the night before or on the morning of your procedure. This helps to prevent infections after surgery
  • Remove all make up, nail varnish, false nails, jewellery and body piercing
  • Do not shave the area of surgery for up to 3 days before
  • Do not bring any valuables or jewellery into hospital

Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes to be able to dress into easily after the operation.

  • If you are having day surgery, you don’t need any other clothes or toiletries
  • If you are staying in after surgery, bring a change of clothes to wear on the wards
  • We don’t encourage patients to wear pajamas on the ward during the day
  • Bring any toiletries you need for a few days in hospital

Having someone to help you home

You will need someone to take you home after the operation. If you are having day surgery, your surgery may be cancelled if you don’t have anyone to take you home.

If you are staying in hospital after your operation, then you will need to plan how you will get home. After your appointment with your surgeon and pre-assessment teams, you should know how long you will be staying in for – so arrange a lift home on that day.

We do not offer hospital transport for people getting home after surgery or from the wards.

Preparing your home

When you get home after being in hospital for an operation, you may not feel like cooking or cleaning. Make sure you get your house tidy, and do some shopping so you have food in the house. If you think you will struggle at home after the operation, please contact the Surgical Rehabilitation Team who will be able to advise you.

More information

Questions about your surgery

Day Stay Unit

0208 510 7155


Surgical Centre

0208 510 7249


Email enquiries@homerton.nhs.uk