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How to prepare your body for surgery

You can take an active role in preparing for surgery, both mentally and physically. In fact, the better prepared you are, the better chance of an easier recovery and more successful outcome. Once you have found a surgeon you trust and you schedule your surgery, it is important to begin preparing for the procedure as soon as possible.

Russell Flint, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon with Piedmont Physicians Orthopaedic Surgery, conducts approximately 100 hip and knee joint replacement surgeries each year and many more joint surgeries. He stresses the importance of patients taking an active role in getting their body in the best condition possible before they go under the knife.

How to prepare before surgery

“Staying physically active is key to maintaining limber joints and strong muscles, which will help surgery patients regain mobility more quickly. Eating a well-balanced diet, with plenty of protein and vegetables, is also important to support the healing process,” says Dr. Flint.

When the surgery date approaches, Dr. Flint says it is time for the patient to take charge of some key things:

1) Hygiene - To avoid infection, Dr. Flint says it is very important for surgery patients to scrub down with antibacterial soap the night before surgery as well as the morning of surgery. Dr. Flint believes this simple, but important process has led to the extremely low infection rate (<0.7 percent) his group sees each year.

2) Medications - A surgeon will review what medications a patient can and cannot take leading up to surgery. Gingko should not be taken and blood thinners must be modified. Dr. Flint says it is okay to keep taking some medications because the patient’s body is used to them and might have more of an effect if taken off.

3) Eating - Dr. Flint’s rule of thumb for his patients is to stop eating eight hours prior to surgery. Having an empty stomach will prevent the possibility of a patient gagging or coughing, causing contents in the stomach to go into the lungs.

4) Contact lenses - Some physicians allow patients to go into surgery wearing soft contact lenses while others want all extraneous objects removed from the patient’s body. The final decision is typically left up to the anesthesiologist.

5) Perfumes - The morning of surgery, it is ideal for the body to be in a clean, natural state. Patients should avoid applying lotions, deodorants or body sprays that contain perfumed chemicals.

“The surgery part is relatively routine. It is the recovery that is the hard part for patients. Those who are intellectually and emotionally committed to preparing and getting their bodies in the best shape possible often have an easier recovery,” Dr. Flint says.

To learn more about surgery at Piedmont, click here

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