Understanding your surgical journey

Preparing your body and mind before surgery helps set you up for a quicker recovery and the best outcome.

The following information outlines what you need to understand and do throughout the different stages of your surgical journey, which includes:

  • an appointment with your surgeon
  • an appointment at the Anaesthetic Pre-Operative Clinic
  • pre-surgical preparation such as tests and adopting healthy lifestyle habits
  • the surgery itself
  • your hospital recovery and discharge home.
About your surgery

Your admission letter will include:

  • the name of your surgery
  • the date of your surgery
  • what time you will be admitted to hospital
  • when to stop eating and drinking clear fluids (also known as fasting).

If you have lost your admission letter, please phone the Helpdesk on 6152 2222 and ask for the Elective Waitlist Service.

Your pre-surgical outpatient appointment

Your surgeon will talk with you about your surgery and any tests you will need to undertake.

If required, your surgeon may refer you for:

  • blood and other pathology tests
  • medical imaging such as x-rays and scans
  • an exercise test
  • other tests as required
  • counselling if you are undergoing complex surgery
  • an appointment with a geriatrician (aged care specialist) if your surgeon is concerned about your memory, as this can affect your recovery.

Your surgeon will also ask whether you have discussed your surgery with your family, as you may need physical and emotional support during your journey.

This is also an ideal time to get in the best health possible before coming to hospital.

Watch short videos on simple health and wellbeing lifestyle changes (fsh.health.wa.gov.au/LifeFitSurgFit) you can start now to help your recovery.

Your Anaesthetic Pre-Operative Clinic appointment

Before your surgery you will have an appointment at the Anaesthetic Pre-Operative Clinic (APOC).

You will be seen by a number of healthcare professionals including medical and nursing staff, anaesthetists and pharmacists to discuss:

  • supporting you to be in the best health possible before your surgery by:
    • quitting smoking and reducing your alcohol intake
    • improving your physical health
    • understanding the importance of good nutrition
    • reducing your risk of lung infection after surgery
  • if you need to speak to a specialist about your surgery because you are diabetic
  • what medications you are taking, and if any changes are required
  • whether you wish to talk to a social worker
  • risks associated with anaesthetic
  • what to expect after surgery and your recovery
  • what support is available to you when you return home.
In the lead up to your surgery

As your surgery date gets closer, it is important that you can confidently answer the following questions.

Please check if you can answer Yes to the following statements:

  • I have met my surgeon and know what operation I am having.
  • I understand the risks and complications of my surgery, including anaesthetic.
  • I know the date of my operation, when to arrive at the hospital and where to go.
  • I understand the fasting instructions.
  • I know what medications I need to stop before my surgery, and when to stop them.
  • I am making healthy lifestyle choices to optimise my health and support my recovery.
  • I know how long I am likely to be in hospital.
  • I understand I will be informed immediately if the date of my surgery changes.
  • I have completed all tests requested by the surgeon for my surgery to proceed.
  • My home is prepared for my return after surgery.
  • I have organised how to get home from hospital.
  • When I return home I have support from family or carers and access to the equipment I need.

If you cannot answer Yes to any of the statements above, please phone the Helpdesk on 6152 2222 and ask to speak with the APOC Clinic for more information.

On the day of your surgery

Before coming to hospital

Read about being admitted to hospital (fsh.health.wa.gov.au/Admission) and learn more about:

  • what to bring, including your medications
  • how to make your hospital stay safer.

Be sure to follow the fasting instructions provided in your admission letter.

If you have any questions, please phone 6152 2222 the Day of Surgery Admissions team between 6.00am – 2.30pm, Monday to Friday.

At the hospital

You will be admitted by a nurse who will ask you a series of questions.

You will also be asked to confirm your consent to proceed with the surgery.

After your surgery

Depending on what surgery you had you wake up in a recovery ward or the intensive care unit (ICU). If you are in recovery you will be taken to your ward once you are ready.

A doctor may visit shortly after your surgery or the next day to discuss your surgery.

You will be given anti-nausea and pain relief medication as required as well as your usual medications.

To reduce your risk of a lung infection (pneumonia) after surgery, do the aCOUGH breathing exercises (fsh.health.wa.gov.au/aCough).

Be prepared to get out of bed soon after your operation.

You will be reviewed by one of the allied health at the appropriate time after surgery.

More information

We encourage you to ask your treating team for more information about any concerns you may have at any time during your surgical journey.