Alaska Regional Hospital - September 14, 2012

So, your doctor says you need surgery.

We imagine that you have a few questions like these!

  • Why is surgery necessary?
  • How long will the surgery take?
  • How will anesthesia be given?
  • What will happen after surgery?
  • How will my pain be controlled?
  • What type of care will I need at home, and for how long?

You might also want to know that most surgical procedures don't require lengthy hospital stays or even an overnight stay. In fact, more than 60 percent of operations performed in the U.S. are outpatient or same-day surgeries. That means patients recover at the hospital for a few hours or so, and then go home on the day of the operation.

Whether you need to have inpatient or outpatient surgery, remember that you're an active participant. You have more control over the process than you might think. As the most important person on your care team, you can help to make your operation safe and successful.

Here are some tips to help you get ready:


  • Follow all instructions you are given by your doctor, surgeon, and hospital staff.
  • Verify your hospital check-in time with your doctor's office.
  • Arrive at the hospital on time for your surgery. Check in with the admitting clerk at the front desk, which is located on the 2nd floor entrance near the gift shop.
  • Visit our Health Library to learn more about your surgery or condition.
  • Arrange for someone to transport you to and from the hospital. You will be discharged after recovery if you are having an outpatient procedure. You will not be allowed to leave the hospital by yourself in a bus, cab, or drive yourself home.
  • If you take medication, bring a complete list of your medications with you.
  • Find out if there are some medicines that you should stop taking before the surgery, like aspirin or other blood thinners, diabetes medications, and even herbs, vitamins and supplements.
  • Bathe or shower the night before or the morning of your surgery using the special soap provided to you. Do not use it on your face or head. Do not apply deodorant, lotion, or make-up the morning of your surgery.
  • Wear clean, loose, and comfortable clothing on the day of your surgery - easy on and off - including socks.
  • Bring your dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids and walker if you use them - but leave contact lenses at home. Leave all valuables at home.
  • Talk about the surgery with loved ones or friends. They can help you to feel less anxious.
  • If you would like spiritual support, ask for a visit from one of our hospital chaplains.


  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery, unless otherwise instructed. This includes chewing gum, candy, water, and even ice! Brush your teeth but don't swallow. You MUST keep your stomach empty before surgery. This helps prevent certain breathing complications.
  • It's hard to do, but completely avoid tobacco for 24 hours before the surgery, that includes cigarettes, cigars, snuff and that chewing stuff. Maybe now is the time to think about quitting!
  • Do not drink any alcoholic beverages 24 hours prior to your procedure.
  • Don't wear make-up, nail polish, or lotion, or bring jewelry and other valuables to the hospital.
  • Do not shave near where you will have surgery for two (2) days prior to surgery. Shaving with a razor can irritate your skin and make it easier to develop an infection.

The surgical staff at Alaska Regional Hospital specialize in many different types of surgeries, including minimally invasive and technology-assisted approaches. We can help you find an experienced surgeon and schedule a pre-surgery consultation. Whether you need inpatient and outpatient services, we'll take good care of you.