Healthy Focus February 2023

Stitch in Time: How to Prepare for Surgery

When you’re considering a surgical solution, the familiar adage “a stitch in time saves nine” might apply. People often want to avoid surgery until all other options are exhausted; however, as the saying advises, addressing a problem right away prevents it from becoming a much bigger one.

Your surgeon can help you determine if surgery is right for you to diagnose or improve your condition, or to help prevent it from getting worse or causing other complications. Surgery, whether elective or required, is done for a multitude of reasons.

A patient may have surgery to:

  • Further explore the condition for the purpose of diagnosis
  • Biopsy a suspicious lump
  • Remove diseased tissues or organs
  • Remove an obstruction
  • Return organs to their normal position
  • Redirect channels
  • Transplant tissue or whole organs
  • Implant mechanical or electronic devices
  • Improve physical appearance

Depending on the diagnosis, a patient has several surgery options:

  1. Optional or Elective Surgery
    A procedure you choose to have, which may not necessarily be essential to continue a good quality of life. An example would be to have an unsightly mole or wart removed.
  2. Required Surgery
    A procedure that needs to be done to ensure the quality of life in the future. An example would be having kidney stones removed if other forms of medication and treatments are not working. Required surgery, unlike emergency surgery, does not necessarily have to be done immediately.
  3. Urgent or Emergency Surgery

This type of surgery is done in reaction to an urgent medical condition, such as acute appendicitis.

Your Surgeon

A general surgeon is a doctor trained to perform a wide range of surgical procedures. All surgeons are trained extensively in general surgery; then they can go on to specialize in an area such as breast, colon, or bariatric surgery. General surgery training includes being able to diagnose, treat, and perform a variety of surgical procedures. Due to their breadth of knowledge, general surgeons also perform emergency procedures for people in the emergency room who need emergency surgery.

Preparing for Surgery

Surgery prep depends on the procedure and the type of anesthesia. Discuss the following

considerations with your doctor or surgeon before your procedure:

  • Ask the surgeon to explain the benefits, risks, and expectations of the procedure
  • Discuss what type of anesthesia will be given and expected recovery time
  • Tell your doctor about any allergies, chronic illness, prior surgeries, and medicines you’re currently taking (over-the-counter or prescription)
  • Stop smoking, drinking, and eating for the required time period before surgery
  • Follow all specific preoperative bathing, shaving, or cleaning instructions
  • Discuss any postoperative instructions (for example, changing dressings, taking post-op medicines, and making follow-up appointments). Purchase any needed supplies and fill your prescriptions ahead of time
  • Don’t wear makeup on the day of surgery, including nail polish (which could affect readings from fingertip probes used to read oxygen levels)
  • Don’t wear contact lenses on the day of surgery
  • Leave valuables and jewelry at home
  • Tell the medical staff about dentures or other prosthetic devices you may be wearing
  • Confirm all insurance coverage before surgery, as many insurance carriers don’t cover many types of plastic surgery procedures (particularly cosmetic procedures)
  • Arrange for someone to accompany you and provide a ride home after your procedure

Get Info

Visit our website to learn more about the surgical services offered at HCMC, including:


Outpatient vs Inpatient Surgery: Exploring the Differences

In the past, surgery often meant checking into the hospital, staying for several days to recover, then transitioning to an inpatient rehabilitation facility. Today, surgeons are increasingly performing these complex surgeries—even total joint replacements—on an outpatient basis.

What Is the Difference?
When you have an inpatient procedure, your doctor signs an order formally admitting you to the hospital. This is an important point. More than half of all hospital inpatient stays originate in the emergency room. However, if the hospital retains you for observation, and your doctor does not admit you, you are not considered an inpatient and you may be responsible for significant out-of-pocket costs your insurance may not cover.

Outpatient services, on the other hand, do not require a hospital stay of 24 hours or longer. Many routine tests and procedures are performed on an outpatient basis—more and more, joint surgeries are as well.


  • Many orthopedic surgeries can now be performed on an outpatient basis
  • A good option for patients who are otherwise healthy
  • You return home in under 24 hours
  • Risks include a complication at home and a chance of readmission to the hospital
  • Typically less costly


  • Doctor formally admits you as a patient
  • You require a medically necessary hospital stay of more than 24 hours following surgery or procedure
  • Safer for patients with health conditions

Pros and Cons of Outpatient Procedures

Today, surgeons can perform many surgeries, often using minimally invasive surgical techniques on an outpatient basis. Patients are able to move about and go home on the same day. Instead of inpatient rehabilitation, patients recover at home or with outpatient rehabilitation. This translates to faster recoveries and is usually less expensive. Outpatient procedures also reduce the risk of patients developing a hospital-acquired infection.

According to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, the downsides of outpatient procedures include the risk of at-home complications, difficulty with pain management, and the possibility for re-admission to the hospital.

Not all patients are good candidates for outpatient procedures. Even if the procedure you need is available on an outpatient basis, your doctor will evaluate your individual health and medical needs. If you have chronic health conditions, or your doctor determines you will likely need 2 or more nights of medically necessary hospital care, you’ll likely be admitted as an inpatient.

Learn More
Our friendly and caring staff is knowledgeable and attentive to the needs of our patients. We are committed to providing the highest quality services and care and strive to make your experience at HCMC as stress-free as possible. Learn more and find a provider.