Anxious about surgery? You're not alone.
For more than 50 years multiple studies have reported that the more anxiety a person experiences before surgery, the more pain medication a person requires after surgery, which often leads to a delayed discharge from the hospital.
For some people, this preoperative fear can last years and often impacts their willingness to engage with any future medical encounter, regardless of need.
So how can a patient mentally prepare themselves for surgery?
1. Learn as much about the procedure using reliable medical sources such as Dr Bhimani’s website while avoiding random blogs. Many surgeons and hospitals offer videos for patients who are about to undergo common procedures, such as hip or knee replacement.
2. Prepare a list of questions and review the details with Dr Bhimani and your anaesthesiologist. Studies show that the more information you have before surgery, the less anxious you will be at the time of the procedure.
3. When speaking with your anaesthesiologist, be sure to understand your options for pain management after surgery, as planning is key for recovery.
4. Use guided imagery. There are ample sources on the web that instruct you on the use of guided imagery and various breathing techniques for anxiety. Practicing these methods can be extremely helpful before surgery.
5. Music is a wonderful tool that has proven to be highly effective. Rather than worrying in the holding area, listen to your favourite music.
6. Other techniques such as scent therapy, touch therapy, and pet therapy are commonly used as well. However, there is no consistent, valid scientific data that promotes these therapies on a routine basis.
Finally, the importance of social support systems surrounding the surgical event cannot be overstated. Friends and family are crucial throughout this time.