3 Tips To Prepare For Your GI Surgery: What To Expect Before & After

What Is GI Surgery?

Digestive health is a growing concern. The ease of accessibility of processed foods, sugary foods, and alcohol can do harm long-term. Today, over 22% of Americans suffer from gastrointestinal conditions, some requiring GI surgery. GI surgery stands for gastrointestinal surgery, a general term about a procedure treating the body parts involved in digestion. These include the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and rectum.

Is GI surgery right for you?

Not all digestive concerns require surgery. Some are temporary, while others can benefit from non-surgical treatment. A doctor may advise GI surgery if a patient needs removal of a cancerous or non-cancerous growth. In some cases, surgery helps to repair a damaged part of the body. GI surgery also treats other minor problems of the abdomen, such as a hernia. Regardless of the issue, preparation varies depending on the type of GI surgery needed. For any procedure, the following are 3 general tips that will help anyone prepare successfully.

1. Follow the instructions of your doctor or nurse

A doctor or nurse will provide specific instructions for GI surgery. To have a successful surgery and fast recovery, make sure to follow all guidelines. Among the usual instructions is fasting several hours before the surgery. Stop taking any medication or vitamins unless advised by the doctor. Before surgery, stopping smoking and alcohol use can improve the recovery rate.

2. Have a recovery team ready

Even for minor GI surgeries, the doctor will encourage the patient to have someone who will provide care after surgery. Make sure to plan for a friend or family member to provide support. The first week back at home is usually the toughest as the body is healing. With enough rest and compliance with the doctor’s instructions, a speedy recovery is possible. On the other hand, a lack of support can slow healing or damage stitches, causing a trip back to the hospital.

3. Adjust your living space if necessary

Even if there’s someone to help around the house, make adjustments to the living space to make movement easier. Being proactive with even the tiniest details can make all the difference. Is there enough food and groceries at home? Can someone prepare meals? Is climbing up and down the stairs possible? What about physical therapy support? Speak with the surgeon to share concerns. The surgeon will have dealt with many patients before and can provide a list of best practices.

What to expect before GI surgery

According to a study on standard perioperative management, patients should expect a range of steps along the way. For instance, before the surgery, patients may need a range of tests. A pre-operative risk assessment helps decide if surgery is safe for the patient. Well before surgery, the doctor may order more tests. On the day of surgery, the patient may need to take medication to prepare for surgery. More importantly, surgeries are now minimally invasive, meaning the patient can often leave the same day.

After the surgery, aka post-operative management

Over the years, the care strategy after a GI surgery has evolved. The hospital will perform a range of steps to ensure a smooth post-operative recovery. These will start with ensuring the patient receives opioid-free medication. Further steps will reduce the chances of blood clots, early removal of tubes and catheters, early oral nutrition, and early detection of complications. Based on the type of surgery, the patient will need time to adjust to consuming liquids and more substantial foods. During different points, the patient meets with the medical team consisting of the pharmacist, doctor, nurses, and a physical therapist.

Preparation is everything

GI surgery may be the last resort when dealing with some digestive conditions. However, the surgery could be life-saving, and most have high success rates. These tips will help the process go smoothly. Preparing the body for both surgery and recovery is vital. More importantly, make sure to follow the advice of the medical team.


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