Preparing for Surgery


Most surgeries require some advance planning. Print the Preparing for Surgery Checklist to help you keep track of appointments and plan ahead so you’ll be well prepared.

Different types of surgery

Most surgeries performed are day surgeries where you return home the same day. Some surgeries may require that you stay in the hospital for recovery. Visit the Your Hospital Stay section to learn what to pack and how to request a semi-private or private room.

All people undergoing surgery should watch the Preparing for Surgery video. Beyond that, it is up to you to determine how much information you'd like to know about your surgery. Visit MedLine Plus to watch videos of different surgeries being performed. Please note the graphic content may not be suitable for all.

Tests and special instructions

Your surgeon’s office will advise you of any required lab tests or appointments.

You will also be advised of any specific instructions about taking or not taking medications, showering with special soap, not eating or drinking, etc.

Get healthy

The healthier you are before surgery, the faster you’ll recover. Talk to your family doctor or surgeon about ways you can improve your health before surgery.

It is highly recommended to quit smoking, using street drugs or drinking heavily as these habits raise your risk of serious problems during and after surgery. Tell your health care professional the truth about your habits.

Pre-admission clinics

Some surgeries may require an interview conducted by telephone or by appointment at a pre-admission clinic. You must call back or attend at the scheduled time otherwise your surgery will be canceled.

If you are not feeling well on the day of your appointment, please call the pre-admission clinic before you leave home. Depending on your illness, your appointment may be re-scheduled.

Have a support person

Surgery can be stressful which makes it harder to remember things. Have a trusted family member or friend come with you to your appointments and to help you get home after surgery. Your support person can also keep other family members and friends up to date on your condition.

It is not safe for you to drive, or even to take a taxi or bus by yourself. In some cases, your surgery will not be done if you have not made prior arrangements for someone to take you home.  You may also need a responsible adult to stay with you at home for 24 hours.

Plan ahead

Regardless of the type of surgery you have, you will need to rest and recuperate. Plan ahead to avoid work, family, or other commitments.


These videos provide an overview of how to optimize your health and surroundings prior to your operation, what to expect while in hospital and how to best manage your recovery after returning home.

Preparing for surgery

Optimize your health and surroundings prior to your operation, what to expect while in hospital and how to best manage your recovery after returning home.

Patient's Guide: Joint Replacement

Understand your joint replacement surgery, the journey through the hospital, getting back on your feet and pain management.

Talking to your doctor about surgery

Talk to your surgeon and ask for a second opinion. Use our Soonest Surgery Tool to find out if you can get your surgery performed sooner. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Understand more about your surgery by visiting our Frequently Asked Questions section.

I Need To...