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Questions about Preparing for Surgery?

Call the Pre-Admission Testing at Cape Cod Hospital at 508-862-7640 or at Falmouth Hospital at 508-457-3881.

Preparing for Surgery

When you have surgery at Cape Cod Healthcare, your health and peace of mind are our highest priority. To help things go as smoothly as possible, it’s good to know what to expect and how to prepare.

Pre-Operative Interview & Testing

Prior to your scheduled surgery, we’ll schedule a pre-op appointment. Any testing ordered will be done at this time, so it’s important to follow any dietary restrictions from your doctor for this testing.
Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment and bring the following:

  • A list of all your current medications and dosages, including over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements
  • Any paperwork you’ve completed, such as a nursing assessment
  • Paperwork from your doctor’s office
  • Your insurance information
  • A parent or guardian if you are under 18 years of age

During the appointment, a nurse will interview you, gather needed information and answer your questions. You’ll also receive educational information about your procedure.

After the interview, if you have any additional questions or concerns, feel free to follow up with the nurse. Let us know if you are not feeling well or have symptoms such as a cough, fever or chills. Because you need to be in your best health for surgery, it may be necessary to reschedule your procedure if you have any of these symptoms.

Before Surgery

The pre-admission testing nurse will contact you the day before your surgery to confirm your arrival time. You’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you to and from the hospital. For safety reasons, you may not drive yourself home after surgery. Your driver will be contacted when you are ready to leave the hospital.

It’s essential that you NOT eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes gum, lifesavers, water, coffee, tea or juice. If you eat or drink anything, your surgery will have to be postponed to another day. The nurse will clarify any questions you have about taking your daily medication.

Since your hospital stay will be brief, bring as little as possible. A bathrobe, slippers and hospital gown will be provided. Leave all your valuables at home.

Do not wear any jewelry, makeup or nail polish on the day of surgery. The color of your skin and fingernails give the anesthesiologist valuable information about your condition.

Day of surgery

  • Plan to shower and brush your teeth at home. You may be given specific washing instructions to follow at home using antimicrobial soap
  • Do not use powder, lotions or other cosmetics or makeup. Remove nail polish
  • The surgical area will be shaved at the hospital. Men may shave their face
  • Dress comfortably
  • At the hospital, you’ll be asked to remove any dentures, hairpins, hairpieces, jewelry, contact lenses, artificial body parts and underwear
  • Leave valuables at home

When you arrive

On the morning of your surgery, please arrive at the designated time and check in at the registration desk. Bring your insurance card and allow enough time for parking and registration.
Your scheduled time of surgery is approximate and may vary depending on circumstances in the operating room.

The day of your procedure you’ll be taken to the pre-admission screening area. Here you’ll change into a hospital gown and your belongings will be secured for you. A nurse will conduct a nursing assessment, take your vital signs and answer any questions. Necessary lab work and other tests will be conducted as indicated by your surgeon. An IV line will be placed to provide you with sedation and medication. You’ll also meet with an anesthesiologist who will explain the anesthesia process and answer any questions.

During Surgery

The surgery may take several hours, including prep and monitoring. Your family is welcome to wait at the hospital. Once your surgery is completed, the surgeon will speak with a family member. Please provide the staff with a designated phone number for the surgeon to call if family members are not present.


After surgery, you will be transferred to a unit where you’ll be monitored by specially trained nursing staff under the direction of the anesthesiologist until you’re awake.

Pain Management

Expect to feel some pain and discomfort for the first few days after surgery. Your surgeon will order medication to help reduce your pain. We recommend that you take the medication as needed to help you rest and move around more easily.

Family Visits

To help you get the rest you’ll need, your family is advised to keep visits brief. As you get stronger, they can be more involved in assisting with your recovery. This will help everyone feel more comfortable when you get home.

Diet & Nutrition

Soon after surgery, you’ll be offered small sips of water or ice chips to make sure your stomach can tolerate them. As you feel better, you’ll be offered a progressive diet starting with clear liquids and moving to solids. Your doctor will probably prescribe a diet restricted in fat, cholesterol and/or sodium. A dietitian will work with you on dietary planning and provide information.

If your surgery is being done on an outpatient basis, you’ll return to the ambulatory care unit. If your surgery requires that you stay in the hospital, you’ll be moved to your assigned room. At discharge, you’ll be given any prescriptions for medication that can be filled at the Cape Cod Healthcare Pharmacy in the lobbies of Cape cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital, as well as instructions for recovery from your surgery.