Preventing complications after you have had surgery is imperative in the success of the operation. It is not only the responsibility of the healthcare staff to ensure this as the patients themselves can actually take measures to try and prevent any post-operative infections also.
Before you are admitted to hospital it is advised that you have a bath, optimally the night before or on the morning of the surgery time permitting.It is not necessary to scrub the skin as this can cause the bacteria that lies deep in the layers of the skin to arise to the surface which otherwise would lie dormant. Washing with a normal bath soap and warm water is fine and should keep your skin clean before your surgery.Your surgeon or pre-assessment nurse may have mentioned shaving the site of the surgical incision and although this practice was routinely carried out in the past it is not often recommended these days as it can be done whilst you are in hospital. Many people however may be asked to shave themselves if the surgery requires access to the genital region in which case the person may feel it is more appropriate to do the shave independently.
If your surgery involves your hands or feet and you know it will be bandage for some weeks you might want to clean and cut your nails as you may be unable to following the surgery.If your surgery is intended elsewhere on the body the nails should be kept clean and short and free of nail polish, including the toenails. Some of the equipment used for monitoring patients throughout their time in the operating theatre requires a peg to placed over either the finger or the toe. The presence of nail polish may provide an inaccurate reading (or none at all) and interfere with your treatment.
If you are about to undergo an operation and are currently menstruating please refrain from using tampons during the operation. In the rare incidence of a complication you may find that the tampon is inserted for longer than is recommended which may increase the chance of an infection and put you at risk of other tampon related complications.
Before going into to hospital make sure you have packed a toothbrush and a small tube of paste. When you have woken up and recovered from an anaesthetic(particularly a general anaesthetic) you will probably have a dry mouth that tastes a bit odd. A simple action like cleaning your teeth can help you to feel better.Many patients will be unable to mobilise immediately after surgery and upon their return to the ward, but the nurses or healthcare assistants will be happy to fetch a bowl and a glass of water for you so can clean your teeth.
Pre-operative hygiene is very important at preventing post-operative complications and there are a few simple steps that patients can take for themselves to try and ensure that there are fewer risks post-operatively.