Outpatient Surgery Guidelines, Adult

These are general instructions for patients who will be going home the same day as the procedure (outpatient).


  • Allergies to food or medicine.

  • Medicines taken, including vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems with anesthetics or numbing medicines.

  • History of bleeding problems or blood clots.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems, including diabetes and kidney problems.

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.


Your caregiver will discuss possible risks and complications with you before surgery. Common risks and complications include:

  • Problems due to anesthesia.

  • Blood loss and replacement (does not apply to minor surgical procedures).

  • Temporary increase in pain due to surgery.

  • Uncorrected pain or problems the surgery was meant to correct.

  • Infection.

  • New damage.


  • Stop taking herbal supplements 2 weeks prior to surgery.

  • Stop smoking at least 2 weeks prior to surgery. This lowers your risk for complications during and after surgery. Ask your caregiver for help with this if needed.

  • Do not take aspirin for 1 week prior to surgery unless instructed otherwise by your caregiver.

  • Do not take anti-inflammatory medicines (such as ibuprofen) for 48 hours prior to surgery.

  • The day before surgery, eat your usual meals and a light supper. Continue fluid intake. Do not drink alcohol.

  • Do not eat or drink after midnight before your surgery. Take your usual medicine the morning of surgery with a sip of water unless instructed otherwise. Check with your caregiver if you are unsure.

  • Arrange for someone to take you home from the hospital and to stay with you for 24 hours after the procedure. Medicine given for your procedure may prevent you from driving a car or caring for yourself.

  • Call your caregiver's office the morning prior to surgery if you develop an illness or problem which may prevent you from safely having your procedure.

  • You should be present 60 minutes prior to your procedure or as directed.


After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery area where a nurse will monitor your progress. When you are awake, stable, taking fluids well, and there are no complications, you will be allowed to go home. You may have numbness around the surgical site. Healing will take some time. You will have tenderness at the surgical site and there may be some swelling and bruising. You may have some nausea.


  • Do not drive for 24 hours or as instructed by your caregiver. Do not drive while taking prescription pain medicines.

  • Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours.

  • Do not make important decisions or sign legal documents for 24 hours.

  • You may resume a normal diet and activities as directed.

  • Do not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (4.5 kg) or play contact sports until your caregiver says it is okay.

  • Change your bandages (dressings) as directed.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Keep all appointments as scheduled and follow all instructions.

  • Ask questions if you do not understand something.


  • You have increased bleeding (more than a small spot) from the surgical site.

  • You have redness, swelling, or increasing pain in the wound.

  • You see pus coming from the wound.

  • You have a fever.

  • You notice a bad smell coming from the wound or dressing.

  • You feel lightheaded or faint.


  • You develop a rash.

  • You have trouble breathing.

  • You develop allergies.