The Night Before Surgery
The night before surgery was rather stressful for both me and my fiance, even though we had been getting things ready for the last two weeks.
We made hotel reservations; we decided to stay in downtown Chicago the night of the surgery to minimize the drive after surgery and to stay close for the post-op appointment and packed bags for the next day.
We literally cleaned the house from top to bottom, packed a surgery suite bag, and I set up a little recovery “bed” with on the couch in the living room.
The surgery suite bag included:
- all my medications
- the “Patient’s Bible” from my doctor
- paper and pens (in case my fiance had to make notes)
- Loose mesh workout style pants (in case I was cold)
- Socks and light weight tennis shoes
- A loose zip up hoodie
- A bottle of Gatorade
- 2 cans of Ginger Ale
- 2 small bottles of 7-Up
- A sealed pack of low sodium whole wheat Saltines
- Baggies for ice
- Snacks for my fiance while he waited for me
- A lined puke bag in case I got sick on the drive out of the surgery center
This bag also doubled as the car ride home bag in case I needed anything for quick accessibility.
We also brought extra drinks, crackers, and bags into the hotel in case I needed anything.
I also placed a puke bag in the car and one by my make shift recovery bed.
For my recovery bed on the couch I lined he cushions with a soft bed sheet and used a lot of pillows to keep myself propped up (the doctor wanted me sleeping on my back and propped at a 45 degree angle for at least a week if possible). I had extra to place at the small of my back for lumbar support and a few for under my knees and feet if my legs ached. I also had some on either side of my to prop my arms up (picture a throne).
I had another top sheet ready and a super cozy plush blanket in case I got cold. I had a tray on the couch with a Gatorade, a Ginger Ale, my cell phone/iPad/computer charger and crackers so all my fiance had to do when we got home was to help my lay down.
I basically was prepared for when we arrived home, it would be an easy transition.
I also looked at some web pages and found some good tips for the night before surgery and post surgery care ideas:
Week or More Before Breast Implant Surgery
- Keep your doctor in the loop about medications, vitamins, supplements, colds, other issues that may affect your ability to keep your date.
A Few Days Before Breast Augmentation Surgery
- Wash hands religiously. Avoid sick people.
- Arrange a ride to and from surgery and someone to care for you (at least 48 hrs).
- Arrange for child care for two days (minimum). If you have to lift young children, get help for several days.
- Arrange for pet care. Food litter box, etc. Better yet, have someone care for them.
- Head off would-be callers and visitors during your recovery. Do this in advance.
- Fill prescriptions. Buy Neosporin, gauze for changes, vitamins and anything approved or requested by plastic surgeon.
- Shop for / cook some foods in advance (like soup). Have simple foods ready to eat (crackers, soup, Jell-O, canned health drinks) in case you can’t eat.
- Buy 1 or 2 large jogging or sports bras that open in front (no wires) and stretchy comfortable pajamas.
- Get a bell to call your helper during your recovery.
- Pay bills and do your banking
- Recharge / replace batteries in remote, cell phone, cordless phone.
- Set up a table close to you with things you’ll need when you get home: medications, T.V. remote control, phone, vitamins, tissue, books, magazines, water bottle, etc. Keep a plastic waste can nearby (anesthesia and medications can make you nauseous).
The Day Before Surgery
- Do the laundry. Clean the house and do the dishes.
- Gas up your car. Rent 3-day movies. Put favorite one in DVD player.
- Locate button down shirts and stretchy pull-on pants. Set out for easy access
- Consider sleeping on the couch / recliner for the first night or two. Make up couch or chair with sheets, blankets and pillows plus a U-shaped pillow. It feels good to be somewhat upright.
- Make up your bed with fresh sheets and pillows.
- Put dry foods on the counter and refrigerated foods at lower levels to avoid reaching. Loosen jar lids, etc.
- Get a bag of frozen peas, ice bags or frozen gel packs ready for swelling and a heating pad for a sore back.
- Put all of your garbage out. Get a good night’s sleep! If your doctor told you not to eat or drink, DON’T!
The Big Day – Before You Head Off to Surgery
- Take a nice long hot shower and wash your hair. Shave everything before going. No makeup, hairspray, deodorant, powder (nothing!).
- Wear warm socks or slippers for surgery. Have comfortable shoes and baggy clothes and top that buttons in front for dressing after surgery. A men’s dress shirt will do the trick.
- Put post-op checklist near your bedside table with your bell.
- Arrange bathroom – Put toilet paper in reach. Organize items so they are ready to go and to avoid bending and reaching (mouthwash, toothpaste & brush, hair brush, contact lens stuff, makeup, etc.)
- Take a coffee can or something with a lid for the ride home in case you get sick. : (
- Bring cold ginger ale or water to sip on the way back home.
- Bring Chapstick for your lips.
- Have pain medication available (as directed by doctor) for the ride home.
- Remove your contact lenses and switch to glasses if you need to.
- Bring your list of any last minute questions.
And at the website Breast Implants 4 You, I found this great post-op checklist:
- Have your significant other, parent or good friend there to take care of you for the first 48 to 72 hours. It is very important to have someone to wake you for medications, help you to the bathroom, prepare food for you and make sure that you eat it, and to be there in the event of an unforeseen emergency.
- Take your pain medications. There is simply no reason to suffer. Studies have proven that patients who are in pain and have a lot of stress can expect to significantly increase their healing time. Take care of yourself.
- Take your antibiotics on time; you do not want an infection. Finish your entire course and do not skip pills.
- Be sure to follow your surgeon’s advice on icing and be sure to change out the cold packs often. Keeping the area cold can really help diminish the swelling and discomfort, especially in the first 48 hours. Do not place ice or a cold compress directly on skin. If your surgeon says no icing — no icing. Abide by your surgeon’s rules.
- Try to eat something, even if it consists of a few bites. You need your energy, because your body is working overtime to heal itself. Taking medications on an empty stomach can cause nausea and dizziness.
- It is very important to drink plenty of water. Your body needs water to help flush out the residual anesthesia and pain meds, especially after you stop taking them. Plus, your body will retain more fluid if you don’t drink enough water, resulting in more bloat and increased swelling. Also, your medications can cause constipation, and being dehydrated can only make things worse.
- Remember that swelling is normal, as is bloating. If you accept it and continue to drink water and eat a balanced diet, all will subside in its own time with a lot less stress.
- Some patients recommend Daikon (a root vegetable) to help with constipation that is brought on by pain medications. It also helps flush out the system. Daikon may be best after you are finished with your medications. Mild stool softeners like Colace are really effective, but please ask your surgeon first.
- Sleep with your chest elevated for at least 10 days.
- Have pillows alongside of you as well as in back of you to support your arms and assist you in trying to roll over on your stomach or sides. You may wish to add a small pillow at the lower back for sleeping.
- Take your temperature regularly. An elevated temperature could mean an infection.
- Take your antibiotics ON TIME. Don’t forget if you are taking birth control pills that some antibiotics can interfere, so in the event that you do have sex, use another form of protection as well.
- When you get tired, sleep. Sleeping gives your body more time and energy to direct towards healing.
- Get up and walk around when you are able, but don’t overdo it. Too much too soon spells disaster.
- If you were fortunate enough to have quit smoking, please do not start again. Smoking narrows blood vessels and decreases the amount of hemoglobin to the wound. This can result in wound closure problems and necrosis (death) of skin cells and tissue.
- Keep moist towelettes or baby wipes near the bed. These are great for freshening up without much effort.
- Keep the ringer on your phone turned off in your room. A constantly ringing phone will keep you from getting much-needed rest.
- Have a whistle, walkie-talkie or intercom system on hand so that you can alert your caregiver if you need them for any reason.
- Ask your surgeon about silicone gel sheeting, Steri-Strips from 3M, Mederma scar gel or whatever else your surgeon may recommend for helping scars.
- Remember to take your after photos or day-by-day photos if you are keeping track. Have your caretaker take several photos during your recovery. You may not remember having them taken or may even get aggravated with a camera in your face when you don’t feel well, but you will appreciate it later if you are keeping close documentation.
- Remember to write in your journal daily because you will forget later due to the amnesiac properties of the anesthesia. Use a miniature tape recorder to keep track of your experience, if you prefer.
- No walking around without a support garment unless your surgeon specifically told you not to wear one. Your breasts will need support during this time for several reasons: breast shape, scar stretching, pain and trauma to the healing breasts.
- If you have online friends, have someone post or email them after your surgery or they are going to worry about you.
- Make sure you don’t take any products that contain aspirin — and don’t drink any alcohol — for at least two to three weeks after surgery.
- Have your friends stop by when you are feeling better. Get some fresh air if you can; it will do you good. Just don’t overdo it.
- Remember, you will have scars and they will look worse before they look better. Please don’t be depressed because of the scars. Your breasts will continue to change over the next few weeks and months, and the scars will be less visible. The scars are at their reddest in the first three to four months. Depression and stressing out over every little thing is NOT good for proper recovery.
- You shouldn’t ride any roller coasters or other types of amusement park rides. If G forces can cause aortal tears, they can cause internal tearing and bleeding in freshly healing tissues. Also refrain from horseback riding and contact sports for several weeks. Be sure to ask your surgeon when you can continue these activities.
- If you have topical arnica montana gels, take care not to get the product on your incisions. Arnica montana can irritate your wounds and cause inflammation.
- Many surgeons recommend that you continue taking vitamin C during your recovery. Ask your surgeon if he or she approves.
- No lifting objects over 5 to 7 pounds. This includes children and pets.
- No bending over. Bending over increases pressure on your wounds and may cause hemorrhaging. Squat down, if you must, but do be careful. This is why it is important to place things at hip level beforehand or have a caretaker.
- If you suspect you may need to pick things up, perhaps buy a “reacher” marketed for this very purpose.
- No raising your arms way over your head. Ask your surgeon when it is safe to do so.
- One of our visitors suggests tying a long string to the ceiling fan light/fan cords.
- Be careful with your significant other and children, and tell them to be careful. Being hit in the breast after surgery can cause bleeding, suture popping and pain.
- Sleeping upright can cause back cramping. Try hot water bottles or heating pads to alleviate this, but remove them when you sleep as they can cause burns. Also, keep heat away from your breasts unless otherwise instructed.
- Watch for suspicious swelling and discolorations that could be a hematoma. Learn the difference between a hematoma and a bruise.
- Make a chart of when to take your meds or use the med chart we have provided. Some are taken 1 every four hours, some are taken four a day. Don’t confuse the instructions. A pill case will help you keep your medications in order.
- Place a waterproof, non-slip stool or plastic chair in the shower when you are finally allowed to shower.
- After you shower, place a towel on the closed toilet seat and sit down to dry yourself. If you are dizzy from your pain medications, you may fall and hurt yourself.
- If you are expecting your period and it does not come, do not worry. The medications, trauma and anesthesia will probably disrupt your cycle. This goes for it coming at an inopportune time as well, such as surgery day. Just have your feminine supplies on hand and expect it when you least expect it, or not at all.
- You are probably going to be depressed a few days after your surgery or at some point during your recovery. This is very normal. Just warn your loved ones beforehand and keep your chin up. Your body has been put through a trauma, albeit a planned trauma, and will make you pay for it in its own subtle ways. Depression may rear its ugly head with crying sessions, feelings of unattractiveness, self doubt, regret and general sadness. This, too, will pass.
- Do not be afraid to contact your surgeon if you feel there is something wrong. Surgeons are accustomed to talking with patients who have questions or just need reassurance.
- Go to your postoperative appointments. These are important so that your surgeon can gauge your progress and assess any further needs you may have to improve your results or experience. It’s also when you can share your thoughts, express concerns or ask advice.
- Most importantly, relax. Don’t stress. Being stress-free is very important for your recovery
It was still hard to sleep and I was getting very very anxious by the minute. But I powered through it and finally got myself to sleep for a bit.