Outpatient Surgery Guidelines, Adult

Outpatient procedures are those for which the person having the procedure is allowed to go home the same day as the procedure. Various procedures are done on an outpatient basis. You should follow some general guidelines if you will be having an outpatient procedure.


  • Any allergies you have.

  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.

  • Previous problems you or members of your family have had with the use of anesthetics.

  • Any blood disorders you have.

  • Previous surgeries you have had.

  • Medical conditions you have.


Your health care provider will discuss possible risks and complications with you before surgery. Common risks and complications include:

  • Problems due to the use of anesthetics.

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

  • Temporary increase in pain due to surgery.

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

  • Infection.

  • New damage.


  • Ask your health care provider about changing or stopping your regular medicines. You may need to stop taking certain medicines in the days or weeks before the procedure.

  • Stop smoking at least 2 weeks before surgery. This lowers your risk for complications during and after surgery. Ask your health care provider for help with this if needed.

  • Eat your usual meals and a light supper the day before surgery. Continue fluid intake. Do not drink alcohol.

  • Do not eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery. Take your usual medicine the morning of surgery with a sip of water unless instructed otherwise. Check with your health care provider if you are unsure. This is particularly important if you take diabetes medicine.

  • Arrange for someone to take you home and to stay with you for 24 hours after the procedure. Medicine given for your procedure may affect your ability to drive or to care for yourself.

  • Call your health care provider's office if you develop an illness or problem that may prevent you from safely having your procedure.


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


  • Do not drive for 24 hours, or as directed by your health care provider. 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 health care provider says it is okay.

  • Change your bandages (dressings) as directed.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines as directed by your health care provider.

  • Follow up with your health care provider as directed.


  • 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.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.