What to Do the Day Before Your Surgery

The information on this page is designed to serve as a guide to prepare you for your trip to the hospital. Please read carefully and feel free to ask any questions during your pre-surgical screening call.

Bathing Before Surgery

Instructions for Cleansing with Chlorhexidine Before Your Surgery

All people have germs or harmful bacteria on their skin. These germs may be more likely to cause an infection. To help prevent an infection, it is important that your skin be as germ-free as possible, before your surgery. Washing with a special soap that contains chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) will help kill germs and prevent infection. It is important to wash your body with this special cleanser the night before and morning of your procedure.


Please note:

  • It is important that all of your body is washed with CHG soap. Wash your head and face with regular soap/shampoo
  • Do not get CHG soap in any open wounds, your eyes or your ears
  • If you are allergic to CHG, do not use it. Another anti-bacterial soap (Dial or Safeguard) can be used
  • If you feel you are having a skin reaction, stop using CHG and call your doctor or seek medical attention

Steps to follow:


For best results, have someone wash any body part(s) you cannot reach. Hard to reach areas may include your back, legs or feet. It is important that you wash all of your body parts. Don't skip - ask for help.

The night before surgery:

  1. Take your usual shower. Shampoo your hair if you desire
  2. Rinse hair and body completely to remove any shampoo residue
  3. If your skin is visibly dirty, bathe first with a non-CHG soap before using the CHG soap
  4. Apply CHG to a clean, moist washcloth. You will need to use 4 ounces of the CHG on your body. (This is the entire contents of small 4 ounce bottle)
  5. Liberally apply the solution to your body from the chin down. Wash your entire body, especially the surgical site(s)
  6. Allow CHG to sit and soak in to the skin for 1 to 2 minutes, then lightly rinse the CHG from your body. This cleanser will continue to kill germs even after you lightly rinse
  7. Do not apply any lotions, powders or deodorants to your skin after showering. These items may prevent the cleanser from killing germs
  8. Make sure you have clean, fresh linens on your bed

The morning of surgery:

  1. Rinse your body with plain, warm water
  2. Apply CHG to a clean, moist washcloth. You will need to use 4 more ounces of the CHG on your body. (This is the entire contents of small 4 ounce bottle)
  3. Liberally apply the solution to your body from the chin down. Wash your entire body, especially the surgical site(s)
  4. Allow CHG to sit and soak in to the skin for 1 to 2 minutes, then lightly rinse the CHG from your body. This cleanser will continue to kill germs even after you lightly rinse
  5. Do not apply any lotions, powders or deodorants to your skin after showering. These items may prevent the cleanser from killing germs
  6. For best results shower with CHG rather than taking a bath. Studies prove that showering removes more germs than a tub bath

Do:

  • Brush your teeth, do not drink the water
  • Remove fingernail polish and acrylic nails (tips are okay as well as clear polish).  It is vital that we are able to see your nail beds.  If you are having surgery on your leg or foot, remove polish from your toes

Don't:

  • Chew gum, sucking on breath mints, hard candy or ice
  • Smoke or use smokeless tobacco, Vape or chewing tobacco for 24 hours before surgery
  • Drink alcohol for at least two days before surgery

Eating and Drinking Before Surgery

For most surgeries, it is important not to eat and drink for several hours before the surgery.  Instructions before surgery and can vary based on health conditions that you may have.  You will receive instructions specific to you from your surgeon.  This information will also be reviewed by a nurse during the pre-surgical screening call or at your clinic visit with the staff in the Pre-Anesthesia Screening Clinic.

What to Bring to the Hospital and What to Leave at Home

Leave These Items at Home

  • All jewelry including rings, earrings, watches and body piercings.
  • Make-up, nail polish, hair clips and other accessories.
  • Any valuables such as money and credit cards, unless you are specifically told to bring them to make a co-payment.

Bring These Items to the Hospital

  • If you have a living will or power of attorney for healthcare, bring a copy with you
  • Wear your glasses or bring them with you. You may need them during your pre-op preparation. The glasses will be removed before you leave the pre-op area
  • If you are wearing contacts, bring a contact lens case with you
  • Wear your dentures; however, you may need to remove them shortly before surgery
  • Wear clothing that is easy to get on and off. The clothes you choose should be comfortable to wear home after your surgery. Examples:
    • If your surgery is on your head or neck – wear a shirt that buttons up and doesn’t have to be pulled over your head
    • If your surgery is on your abdomen – wear loose-fitting pants with an elastic waist
  • If you already have crutches and will need them after surgery, bring them along with you
  • If you would like your prescriptions filled at your local pharmacy, bring the phone and fax number of that pharmacy
  • Bring your insurance pharmacy card
  • Any items of value should be locked up with security or sent home with your family.  The hospital is not liable for lost personal items
  • If you use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, please bring the machine, mask and tubing to the hospital.  You may need to use the machine after surgery when you are waking up