What to expect the day of surgery

  • You will be taken to the pre-surgery area. A nurse will meet with you to start your care plan and review what you can expect before and after your surgery.
  • If you did not drink a nutritional supplement before arriving and it is more than two hours before surgery, you will be given a nutritional supplement to drink.
  • You will be given hospital clothing to wear, including a special gown that can be hooked up to a machine that blows warm air.
    • Forced-air warming therapy is used to keep your body warm before, during and after surgery.
    • When you have anesthesia, your body is not able to maintain its normal temperature. As a result, your body temperature decreases, putting you at risk for hypothermia.
    • Hypothermia causes your blood vessels to constrict (become smaller), which reduces the amount of oxygen-rich blood in your bloodstream. This can lead to an increase in blood loss and your risk for infection.
  • You may feel warm with the special gown on, but it is important that you do not turn the machine off.
  • Family members can wait with you in the pre-surgery area before surgery.
  • You will meet with your surgeon and an anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist will talk with you about your options to manage pain.
  • You will then be taken to the operating room.
  • While you are in surgery and in recovery, your family will go to the surgery waiting room.
  • Your surgery time will vary from two to five hours. It is possible that your surgery may take longer than five hours.
  • Your surgeon will talk with your family when your surgery is done.
  • After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery area. The time you spend in recovery will depend on how fast you recover from your anesthesia. Your nurse will monitor your vital signs and help you if you have any side effects from the anesthesia.
  • You will start your breathing exercises while you are in the recovery area.
  • You may have some discomfort and pain when you wake up. Everyone reacts to pain differently. Your nurse will work with you to make you as comfortable as possible.
  • You will see your family when you get to your hospital room.
  • It is important to start walking as soon as you can after surgery. When you get to your hospital room, your nurse will help you walk to your bed. If you are unsteady, always use the call light to get help.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Understanding Your Colon or Rectal Surgery, can-ah-95399
First Published: 01/24/2013
Last Reviewed: 08/15/2017

Learn more

Learn more about these ways to help control pain after surgery: