Tips to aid post-op recovery
Don’t worry about shaving your legs or getting a manicure before surgery, but do remember to take two toothbrushes. Knowing you have an impending operation, even if its routine, can be a nerve-racking experience and you may find yourself popping to a beauty salon to ensure you look your best before going under the knife. However, some decisions that people make in the days or hours leading up to surgery could either lead to a procedure being cancelled, or affect recovery afterwards. Here are some helpful tips to ensure everything goes smoothly when it comes to surgery.
While you might be worried about body hair, shaving your legs before an operation could put you at risk of infection afterwards.
“Shaving leads to microscopic cuts and abrasions which can disrupt the skin's barrier defence against bugs - these can then colonise the skin and hair follicles,” explained Andy Goldberg, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at The Wellington Hospital in London. “While the risk is not very high, it's good practice to leave the shaving to the surgeon. The best time to remove hair is immediately before the operation, rather than in advance.”
It’s also important to make sure your nails aren’t too long before the surgery, as dirt can get trapped underneath and increase infection risks. You can forget about an expensive manicure or pedicure as well, as this is another potential hindrance when it comes to post-op recovery.
“During surgery, we use probes to measure the level of oxygen in patients' blood,” explains Oliver Warren, a consultant surgeon and co-author of a new book, Going Into Hospital? A Guide For Patients, Carers And Families. “These are attached to the finger, so nail varnish has to be taken off before they can be used.”
Experts also advise against having a shower the night before you arrive at hospital, particularly if you have time freshen up on the day of your surgery. You don’t know how long you may be bed bound, or stuck with a dressing that can’t get wet.
Dr Ron Cutler, a microbiologist at Queen Mary University of London, recommends taking two toothbrushes with you. While hospitals are generally very clean, using a new toothbrush post-op could aid your recovery as it won’t harbour bugs and won’t impair your immune system, which could be reduced after surgery.
And lastly if you’ve been told to fast before your operation, don’t cheat by chewing gum. This can lead to the release of extra acid in your stomach.