Pre/Post Op Information
If there is time before surgery, you may be told to do the following to help your surgery go more smoothly:
- Tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking (including aspirin), and ask if you should stop taking them.
- Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight before surgery including water, chewing gum, and breath-mints.
- If your doctor tells you to take medication the morning of surgery, swallow it with only small sips of water.
- Weeks ahead of time, you may be asked to donate blood for your surgery.
- If you smoke, you should stop now.
- If you smoke, your bones may not fuse and your wounds may not heal appropriately, leaving you more prone to failure and/or infection.
- At least three to four weeks before surgery, stop smoking or cut down as much as you can.
- Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can make you bleed more during surgery.
- Ask your doctor if and when you should stop taking them.
Your Medical Checkup
You may need to see your primary care doctor to make sure you’re in good shape for surgery. Tell your doctor what medications you are taking including over-the-counter drugs like cold medicine and aspirin. Ask your doctor and surgeon if you should stop taking any medications before surgery.
Getting Your Home Ready
To make life after surgery easier, you should get your home ready. Some suggestions are:
- Put things where you can get them without reaching or bending.
- Pick up clutter.
- Remove throw rugs.
- Tape down electrical cords.
- Arrange for someone to help you with cleaning and household duties.
- Getting Ready for an Injection.
Your doctor may ask you to prepare by doing the following:
- Provide a list of all medicines you take, including aspirin and anti-inflammatories.
- Don’t eat six hours before check-in, or drink anything four hours before.
- Arrange for a responsible adult to drive you home afterward.
- Bring any requested x-ray, CT, or MRI images on the day of the procedure.
Your Family’s Role
Support the patient by offering to help with daily tasks. Attend appointments, run errands, and cook.
Be a good listener and be sure to keep all family members involved, including children. You and your loved one will go through stages of feelings. Your ability to share these feelings and listen will help keep your loved one from feeling alone. The treatments your loved one is having may seem frightening.
The healthcare team will want to prevent and control complications. But the timing of surgery may depend on you or your loved one’s condition.
Make sure all follow-up visits are kept and check that all medications are taken as directed. Be patient with mood swings, pain, or fatigue that your loved one may feel.
Talk to the doctor if any sadness does not pass with time. When your loved one is ready, find ways to help him/her return to normal daily activities. Most, if not all, should improve with time.
Arriving and Getting Ready
You’ll most likely arrive at the hospital a few hours before your surgery. If you have not preregistered, you’ll have forms to fill out. After you change into a gown, certain tests may be done. Then, one or more IV lines may be started. These lines provide the fluids and medications you need during surgery.
At the start of your surgery, you’ll be given general anesthesia. This medication will make you “sleep” through the surgery. An anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist is in charge of the anesthesia. He or she may meet with you before the surgery begins to talk with you and answer questions.
You’ll be asked to fill out and sign some forms when you check in. These can include surveys about your pain. Your doctor also may give you a brief physical exam. Finally, you may receive an IV line to give you fluids and medicine.
Accepting what has happened can be hard for you and your loved ones. Recovery will take time. You may feel more tired than normal for a few months or even a year. Coming to terms with your emotions can help ease the process.
It’s harder to cope some days than others, so be patient. If you feel sad or depressed, talk with a member of your healthcare team. Depression is common and can be treated. It’s normal to have fears or feel angry. Sharing with your family can also help.
When To Call the Doctor
Call your surgeon at once if you have any of the following:
- Increased drowsiness
- On-going nausea or vomiting
- Extreme headaches
- Increased muscle weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Pain swelling in a leg
- Fever of 101° F or greater
- Burning during urination
- Nasal drainage
- Redness or drainage from the incision or an IV site
Therapy may be prescribed and therapists can work with you to improve balance, strength, speech, and daily living skills. If you are having problems with strength or movement, your therapist may suggest installing hand rails in hallways or bathrooms at home.
If Other Treatment is Needed
After most surgeries, medications are often prescribed to treat side effects and help you feel better. Further adjunctive tests/procedures may be required post-operatively. Often, several surgeries must be performed over the course of several months/years to achieve proper form/function or desired results.
After Your Hospital Stay
You may be able to go home as soon as you can walk, eat and drink normally. Back home, family and friends may offer help and support. Accept help when you need it, but it’s important to strike a balance. Keep in mind that you’re striving to become independent again.
Keep Follow-up Visits
You may have an office visit seven to ten days afterwards. At this time, any remaining stitches or staples may be removed. You can expect to meet with your surgeon about every four weeks for the first few months. You may also have follow-up imaging tests to ensure your condition is stable.
Start by Walking
Walking is a great way to rebuild your strength. Start out with short, frequent walks. Even if it’s just to get a glass of water, get up and walk each day. Gradually try walking greater distances, such as to the corner mailbox.
Adjusting to Daily Life
Say “yes” when people offer to help, such as with cooking and housework. Arrange for childcare when you need a break. Have friends and family give rides and attend school games. If you’ve been told not to drive at this time, get help setting up rides. Talk with your social worker, case manager, or discharge planner. Ask your employer about cutting back your work hours if your schedule is too tiring, or try working at home where you can pace yourself.
Your Family’s Role
After treatment, observation occurs. The team will want to see how well the surgery worked. Waiting for answers can be tiring. You may choose to let some people go home and rest. Then other family members can wait for news.
You will be shown a nearby room where you can wait during surgery. Many surgeries can take three to five hours, or more. If possible, be sure one person is always in the waiting room to receive news. The doctor will talk with you when surgery is over. You’ll also be told when you can visit your loved one.
If you Need Medications
Most oral & maxillofacial conditions can cause symptoms and your treatment is likely to produce some side effects. To help you feel better, your doctor may prescribe medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible interaction with other medications. Always take them as directed.
Steroids reduce swelling. Do not stop taking them without your doctor’s approval. Side effects can include water retention, weight gain, hair growth, insomnia, stomach ulcers, increased risk of infection, and mood changes.
Antibiotics help prevent infection and are routinely prescribed post-operatively for a duration of 5-10 days depending on the type of procedure performed. Call the doctor right away if you have any of these side effects: trouble breathing, rash, balance problems, or dizziness.
You may need other medications to manage symptoms and side effects. Talk with your doctor if you have problems with nausea, stomach acid, or pain. Medications may include:
- Anti-emetics to control nausea
- Antacids to control stomach acid
- Laxatives or stool softeners to treat constipation
- Medications to control pain
- Antimicrobial mouth-rinses to help control opportunistic oral infections
- Decongestants to help alleviate sinus pressure/drainage