How to Prepare for Breast Cancer Surgery


Before your surgery, you will be reminded to do the following:
  • Do not use aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for one week before your surgery.
  • Do not eat or drink for a certain period of time before surgery; the amount of time depends on the type of surgery, the type of anesthesia, age, and medications, but is usually about six hours
  • Shower the morning of surgery, but do not use any perfumes, colognes, or body lotion.
  • Remove all nail polish and body jewelry, such as piercings.
  • Bring any X-rays or other tests that you may have.
  • Bring what you will need after surgery, such as your inhaler if you have asthma or a cane if you use one.
  • Bring your insurance information.
  • If you are having same-day surgery, or out-patient surgery, arrange for someone to take you home and stay with you for 24 hours in case of complications
  • Leave money, jewelry, and other valuables at home.

At the hospital
When you arrive for surgery a nurse or staff member will:
  • Check your name, birth date, signed consent for surgery, and the correct body area for your surgery. If you have any last-minute questions, ask to discuss them at this time.
  • Measure your vital signs (temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygen level).
  • Measure or ask about your height and weight.
  • Make sure you have not had anything to eat or drink for the length of time your surgeon told you, usually six hours.
  • Check your medical chart for any allergies you have and any medications you take.
  • Answer any questions you or your family members have about your surgery. Tell the nurse who should be contacted right after your surgery to talk about how the surgery went and whether anything was found.
  • Make sure you have a ride home.
  • Explain to you what will happen and reassure you to remain calm. The nurse may go over the pain scale that is used to help see how you are doing after surgery.
  • Ask you to urinate and change into a hospital gown.
  • Ask you to remove any dental work, such as dentures or plates.
  • Ask you to remove any hearing or visual aids, such as ear pieces or contact lenses.
  • Give you any medications ordered by the anesthesiologist during his or her visit with you before surgery. These medications will help you relax.
  • Give you antibiotics, if ordered by your surgeon.
  • Give your family or friends instructions on how long you will be in surgery and in the recovery area and where to wait during your surgery.
  • Start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm or hand, if necessary, for fluids and medications before, during, and after your surgery.

Your surgeon or the surgical team may also give you some information on what will happen after surgery, such as whether you will have special equipment, like another IV, a urinary catheter, or wound drains.

Last Updated: September 15, 2008

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