Preparing for surgery

For some people, the time leading up to surgery can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’ve never had any surgery before. For others, it may be anticipated as a chance for relief from painful symptoms.

You will need to make sure you have someone available to take you home afterwards and to help look after you for at last least the first few days after your operation. You will need to let your work and any other commitments know that you will not be available after your operation as you’ll need time to recover. How long you’ll be in recovery will depend on what treatment is carried out so it’s best to check with your consultant first if you’re not sure.

Your hospital and / or your consultant should send you some information about how to prepare for your surgery beforehand. This might come with your hospital admission letter (the letter that tells you the date and time your operation), or it may be sent to you separately. If you’ve not had any information, speak to your hospital at least a week before the date of your operation.

The surgery will be different depending on your circumstances and you may be asked to carry out specific steps as part of the surgery preparation. Always refer to information from your hospital or consultant for details related to your own particular surgery. There should be a telephone number on your admission letter that you can call if you’re not sure what you need to do.

It’s very important that you tell your hospital if you’re allergic to anything. You will be given medicines to put you to sleep (anaesthetic) and medicines to manage pain and any sickness you might feel after the operation. If you’ve reacted badly to any medicines in the past, make sure that you tell your surgeon or your nurse before you go into surgery.

It’s also important to let your hospital and/or consultant know before the date of your operation if you have been unwell recently, especially if you’ve been given medicine to treat this, e.g. antibiotics. They might want to consider waiting until you’re better before carrying out the surgery.

On the day

Operations to treat endometriosis are usually done by laparoscopy – a type of ‘keyhole’ surgery – and you will be put to sleep (general anaesthetic). You will be given strict instructions beforehand about what and when you can eat or drink. You will usually be given a cut-off time several hours before the operation depending on whether you are due to be treated in the morning or in the afternoon. After this point, you won’t be able to eat or drink.

If you take any regular medications, you will usually be able to carry on taking these as normal but check your hospital admission letter for specific instructions. It’s extremely important that you follow these instructions as they are put in place to keep you safe while you are asleep.

After you’ve arrived in hospital, you will usually be taken to a ward while you wait for your operation. You will be given a hospital gown to put on and usually some long socks which will help with your blood circulation while you’re under anaesthetic and then in recovery. Your nurse should explain to you how to put these on and will be able to help you if you’re struggling to put them on yourself. You’ll also be asked to remove any jewellery, including rings and earrings. Even better, leave these at home – that way there’s no chance of them going missing while you’re in hospital.

Your consultant will usually come to meet you before the operation to say hello and to talk you through what’s happening. You will probably also get to meet your anaesthetist: this is the person (or team) responsible for putting you to sleep and for keeping you comfortable when the operation is going on.

When the time comes to go into your operation, you will be taken to a preparation room to be given anaesthetic. This is usually given to you through a drip. You will feel a bit drowsy at first and then you will fall asleep. Your bed will then be moved into the operating theatre where your surgeon will be waiting.

In short, FTWW usually recommends that you bring:

  • A nightie or nightshirt rather than pyjamas to wear after coming out of surgery – this will make it easier to access drips and catheters, and will be more hygienic in a public toilet where pyjama bottoms may drag on the floor
  • A dressing gown with pockets
  • Any medications you take
  • A list of questions that you may wish to ask surgeon / nurse – remember to ask for a contact number in case you have any concerns after you’ve left hospital
  • A pack of wet wipes
  • Some lip balm – your lips can get very dry and cracked after an operation as you may not have been allowed to drink fluids for a while
  • A pair of slippers
  • Toiletries, including toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hand sanitiser, hairbrush, period pads (in case of any bleeding) – although most hospitals in Wales now provide period products for free, it’s best to be on the safe side
  • Paper hankies
  • Some bottled water – you will probably be thirsty after you come out of surgery!
  • Your phone and the phone charger
  • Loose change, just in case of emergencies!
  • Some spare underwear and socks
  • Loose / stretchy clothes, including underwear, to change into to go home
  • A pillow or cushion to put on your belly for the drive home
  • A book or magazine
  • Some earphones – there is often a lot of waiting around, so it can be helpful to listen to some soothing music, a podcast or to do some meditation while you wait for your surgery and/or while you wait to go home.