The night and morning before surgery

Food and liquid directions before surgery

These directions are based on your scheduled arrival time. Not following these directions could mean your procedure will be delayed or canceled.

Alcohol and tobacco: 24 hours

  • Do not drink any alcohol 24 hours before your scheduled arrival time.
  • Do not smoke, vape, use chewing tobacco or use any other tobacco products up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival time. 

Regular foods: 8 hours

  • Eat your regular foods up to 8 hours before your scheduled arrival time.

Light solid foods: 6 hours

  • You may eat light solid foods up to 6 hours before your scheduled arrival time. A light meal is:
    • juice or coffee with milk or cream
    • 1 piece of toast or 1 bowl of oatmeal or hot cereal.
  • Do not eat any nuts or nut butters.
  • Do not eat foods that are heavy or high in fat such as meat or fried foods..

Clear liquids: 2 hours

  • Drink only clear liquids up to 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. 
    • Drink water, fruit juice without pulp, black coffee, clear pop or tea.
    • Do not have milk, yogurt or energy drinks.


  • Take your medicines as directed with a small sip of water.

Guidelines for babies

  • 6 hours before the scheduled arrival time
    • you may give formula.
  • 4 hours before the scheduled arrival time
    • you may give breastmilk.

Additional instructions

  • Do not shave the surgery site.
  • Follow your doctor’s directions for taking medicine. They will tell you if you should take any or all of your regular medicines.
  • Follow any specific instructions given by your doctor. (For instance, cleansing your skin with a special soap.)
  • Bring a list of your medicines with you to the hospital. Include prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbals. Include the name of the medicine, how much you take, and the last time you took the medicine.
  • Please leave money, credit cards and other valuables at home.
  • If you wear glasses, contact lenses, dentures or hearing aids, bring containers for them during surgery.
  • Remove all jewelry (including rings) and body piercings. Please leave the items at home or with a family member at the hospital.
  • Do not wear make-up, deodorant, perfume, cologne or aftershave.
  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.
  • Bring any forms given to you by your doctor. If your surgery requires a physical exam, please bring these completed forms with you.
  • Bring your insurance card.
  • Bring your health care directive.
  • Bring personal care items such as deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, slippers and comb if you are staying at the hospital.
  • Bring any special medicines (including eyedrops and inhaler) or equipment (such as CPAP machine, crutches, cane or splint).
  • Bring books or magazines.
  • Please arrive at the hospital as directed before your surgery. It is common to be told to arrive two hours before your scheduled surgery time. If you have trouble walking or moving, allow extra time.

Related resources

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Surgery: What You Need to Know, surg-ah-21686
First Published: 01/15/2011
Last Reviewed: 11/25/2019