John Kane in Surgery

Preparing for Your Surgery

Surgery, minor or major, will put demands on your body. How can you be as prepared as possible? And increase your chance for a smooth recovery and no complications?

Did You Know

You can sign up your caregivers to receive surgery updates via text messages. Learn More

1. The first step is to learn what your surgery entails and the risks involved.

Before you sign the required consent form for the procedure, be sure you understand what is planned. The consent form will outline what the surgeon expects to do — the procedure that has been discussed with you — and may also explain what will be done if something unexpected happens. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

2. Eat well.

Today’s surgical procedures, such as endoscopy, robot-assisted surgery and lasers, are far less invasive than they used to be, but your tissues will still be affected to some degree during surgery. What you eat now will help your body heal faster and strengthen your immune system during recovery.

Proteins are the building blocks for healing, so choose healthy one, including chicken, turkey, fish, beans, lentils, eggs and tofu. Nuts and nut butters also are a good protein source. If you aren’t hungry, eat the high-protein foods on your plate first. If you have been losing weight, high-calorie protein drinks between meals can be helpful.

Antioxidants help your immune system remove free radicals from your blood and decrease inflammation. You get them from the vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables, including spinach, tomatoes, berries, broccoli and cauliflower, and orange fruits and vegetables, including squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and carrots. The American Institute for Cancer Research has more information about antioxidants and phytochemicals in foods.

3. Exercise.

Daily exercise is a great way to improve your conditioning before an operation. A 30-minute walk every other day is valuable.

4. Stop smoking.

The sooner you quit before surgery, the better. It will reduce your risk for complications during and after the procedure.

5. Control your glucose.

If you have diabetes, control your glucose (blood sugar) levels before surgery to improve healing.

6. Dental Care

Take care of your teeth and gums; an infection or abscess, it may delay your surgery. Ask your doctor if you need to see a dentist before your surgery.

The day of your surgery

If you will have general anesthesia for your procedure, you must have a responsible adult drive you home. If you do not, your procedure will be canceled. A taxi or bus is not an acceptable ride home. If this is a problem, inform your nurse.

You need to arrange for a friend or family member to stay with you on the day of your procedure.

If you will have special equipment after you are discharged from the hospital, practice with it before your surgery.

Let your doctor know

  • all your prescription and over-the-counter medications—including vitamins and supplements. Bring a list on the day of your surgery.
  • if you use tobacco, alcohol or recreational drugs.
  • if you have allergies and if you have had an allergic reaction.
  • any dietary or mobility restrictions you have.

If you develop a fever, flu-like symptoms or a sore throat during the week before your procedure, call your doctor/center right away.

When you arrive at Roswell Park

Go directly to the third floor of the hospital to check-in with the Patient Access representative.

You will receive an ID band with your personal medical information. It’s an important safety measure in your care, so be sure to wear the band at all times.

After you are admitted, a nurse will bring you to the pre-op area while your family remains in the waiting room. The nurse will take your vital signs and review your medical history, medications, and allergies. An IV (an intravenous tube placed in a vein in your arm) will be started.

A staff member will bring your family to the pre-op area to see you before your surgery (only two visitors, ages 12 years or older, are allowed at a time). Give any valuables to your family for safekeeping. Lockers also are available for use.

While you are in surgery

Your family will be in the surgical waiting area on the 3rd floor. They may receive a pager to allow them to receive updates on your status. If your family needs to leave the area, they should notify staff. Volunteers also are on 3 West to assist.

After your surgery

Coughing and deep-breathing exercises will help you clear and expand your lungs and prevent pneumonia. They will also help you recover from surgery more quickly. This video shows you what to do.

You may be given a spirometer to reduce your risk of pneumonia.

If you are given one before surgery, practice using it. Your nurse will explain how. Use it 10 times an hour when you are awake.

After your procedure, walk as soon as possible to reduce the risks of blood clots and pneumonia. Breathing exercises, physical activity, and lying with your head elevated help to keep your lungs clear. Proper oral care keeps germs from building up in your mouth and moving into your lungs.

Making your stay more comfortable

Pain relief

Let your nurses know if you are in pain or have an uncomfortable reaction to your pain medication. Relieving or decreasing your pain is an important part of your recovery and our staff will work to make you as comfortable as possible.

Your medications

All your medications will be provided while you are admitted, including medications you normally take at home. Do not bring any medications from home. Your nurse will answer any questions you have about your medications.

Room service

We are pleased to be able to offer hotel-style room service for your meals during your stay with us. You will be able to eat what you want, when you want.

Upon admission, you will receive a room service menu. To place your order, dial DINE (8888) on your room phone or 716-845-8888 using an outside line. We will assist you with your menu selections and ensure that any therapeutic diet needs ordered by your physician will be met.

Meals are made-to-order and delivered within 30 minutes. You and your family members also can order meals in advance or request a specific delivery time. Guest meals also are available so your family and visitors may dine with you.


If you would like to bathe or take a shower during your stay, please talk to your nurse and make sure to follow his or her instructions.

Fall prevention

Your wellness is our primary concern. Falls are a leading cause of injury in hospitals. Please ask us for help getting in or out of bed. We are here to help and only seconds away.

Here are some other tips to help keep you safe while in the hospital:

  • Use your call light to alert us if you have fallen, feel unsteady, light-headed, dizzy, or weak.
  • After reclining for a long time, be sure to sit up for a few minutes before you stand. It will help minimize any feelings of dizziness.
  • Wear your glasses when needed to help you see your surroundings better.
  • Wear shoes with non-skid soles and avoid floppy slippers, bare feet, or loose stockings.
  • Keep items you use often within reach.
  • Be careful when walking with your IV pole.

TV and Phone

Cable television is available in all patient rooms at no cost. A channel guide is provided at your bedside.

Cell phones are allowed in most areas of the hospital including the lobby areas and waiting rooms on the surgical floors. Inpatient care areas, please respect the privacy and quiet time of our patients.

Laptop Computer Loans

You can borrow a laptop to use while you are in the hospital at no cost. Ask your nurses or call our Resource Center at 716-845-8659.

The Resource Center also has a library of popular movies and TV shows available for loan at no cost. Your nurses have a list of DVDs available at the nursing station or you can call 716-845-8659 for more information.

Going Home

Your doctor will determine the best time for you to go home. Before you leave the hospital, your nurse will review the written discharge instructions for your care at home. Please ask the nurse questions about any of the instructions.

If you disagree with your discharge plan, you have the right to appeal. Contact your case manager at 716-845-5735.

Before you head back home, here’s a list of things you will need to know:

  • Medications: You’ll receive all the prescriptions you will need. You and your nurse will review the medications your doctor ordered and discuss when and how to take them.
  • Homecare: If your doctor and case manager ordered homecare or other assistance for you, the nurse will review those services with you.
  • Your daily activities: Your nurse will review any restrictions the doctor ordered, such as taking a bath, driving or carrying anything weighing more than five pounds.
  • Caring for your incision/wound: The nurse will review instructions on how to clean your incision or change the dressing, and when you can take a shower or a tub bath.
  • Caring for catheter, lines, or tubes: Catheters, central lines, drains and tubes have special homecare instructions. Your nurse will review these with you before you leave. Additionally, our case managers are always available to help you with your homecare needs.
  • Rest and exercise: Your discharge instructions may specify how and when you are to rest. You may be told to stay in bed for a few days or to put your feet up when you sit. You also may be asked to perform certain exercises regularly, such as leg or breathing exercises.

The nurse will inform you if you may return to your normal diet at home or if there is a special diet your doctor wants you to follow. If you need further information for your special diet, ask your nurse to contact the dietitian.

The nurse will give you information on your follow- up visits before you leave.

Once you are home, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Keep a list of questions to ask your doctor at your next scheduled visit.

These Roswell Park staff members will help you with your return home:

  • Case managers: Case managers are registered nurses (RNs) who coordinate resources and medical support services to ease your transition from hospital to home. Case managers understand your special needs. If you require it, your case manager will arrange homecare, special equipment and other home services.
  • Licensed clinical social workers (LCSW): Our social workers assist with discharge planning for patients who will be transferred to rehabilitation, long-term care, hospice and other facilities.

Where to call with medical questions

If you have questions about your cancer treatments, side effects, appointments, or prescription refills during business hours (Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.), call your Roswell Park Ambulatory Center.

After 5 p.m. and on weekends and holidays, call 716-845-2300 and you will be connected with the care you need.

For any medical questions not connected to your cancer, please call your primary care physician.

Roswell Park does not have an emergency room. If you are experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency, go directly to the nearest hospital emergency room or call 911.

Let the ER staff know the last time you were treated at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. If you do go to an emergency room and/or are admitted to another hospital, call Roswell Park at 716-845-4358 as soon as you are able.