Once you and your ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist have exhausted all other medical options, you may be scheduled for surgery. Just like anything else, you need to prepare your mind and body before the procedure. About 2 weeks before surgery, begin following the steps outlined in the following sections. By doing so, you will be creating a healthy environment, thereby increasing the likelihood that your surgery will be a complete success.
Stop taking aspirin. Aspirin makes people bleed more easily, and surgery patients should not take it for 14 days before surgery and 7 days afterward. If you are taking aspirin, or a medicine containing aspirin, on your own, please stop it, even if it is just a “baby” aspirin. However, if you are taking aspirin on a doctor’s order, call as soon as possible and ask if you can temporarily stop. Remember to inform your surgeon of the decision before the surgery date. There is a huge list of over-the - counter (OTC) medications that contain aspirin or blood-thinning substances, including anticoagulants (heparin or Coumadin) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Make sure you give a complete list of your medications to your surgeon so that it can be reviewed for any blood - thinning substances.
Continue taking all of your other medications. You must take your sinus medicines religiously before deciding on surgery, so as to give yourself the best possible chance of success. This may actually require 3 - 8 weeks of medicine (or more), depending on the problem.
Even if you know that you will need surgery, it is a good idea to continue to take these medicines before surgery. The medicines will decrease the risk of inflammation and infection, will lessen bleeding during and after surgery, allow you to heal faster, decrease related pain, and will improve your results.
Avoid alcohol. Even one beer a day is not good for your sinuses. I suggest that you not drink any alcoholic beverage for 1 week before surgery.
Stop taking herbal remedies. Many herbal supplements are contraindicated with anesthesia or surgery. You may think that because these products are from plants, and thus “natural,” they cannot be dangerous. Or you may be embarrassed to tell your physician that you are taking something for weight loss, to increase your sexual stamina, clear up your back acne, or fight depression. But remember, your doctor has probably heard it all before. More important, nothing is embarrassing when it comes to safety. Many of these same herbal remedies can be lethal when combined with anesthesia or other medications while undergoing surgery, especially if they have blood-thinning properties. The following is a list of the top anticoagulant offenders:
■ Vitamin E is usually the number-one no-no. Vitamin E has antiplatelet properties and inhibits vital clot formation. Your surgeon may more than likely ask you to cease consuming vitamin E in any form at least 2-3 weeks before any surgery and for 2 - 3 weeks afterward.
■ Garlic (Allium sativum), ginger, alfalfa, cayenne, papaya, feverfew, chamomile, dong quai root, willow bark, goldenseal, guarana, horse chestnut, and bilberry also have antiplatelet properties and may inhibit clot formation.
■ Gingko, gingko biloba, and selenium are powerful anticoagulants. Each of these are considered to be three times stronger than vitamin E.
Eat well and then stop. As with any surgical procedure, a well-balanced diet will increase your chances for optimal results. Good dietary habits and daily multivitamins are encouraged before the procedure, as long as they do not contain the nutrients listed above. You should not eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before surgery, except to take any necessary medicine (as per your surgeon) with a small sip of water.
Check your overall health. Inform your primary-care physician that you are intending to have surgery. If you have any significant medical problems, you will need clearance from your primary physician. You will need some blood work and if you are over the age of 40, you will need to have an electrocardiogram (ECG). If you are over 65 or have another medical problem, you will need to have a chest X-ray. Every surgeon and hospital/surgery facility has specific protocols of required preoperative testing. It is important to speak with your surgeon at least
2 weeks before surgery to make sure that you are able to schedule all of the necessary tests. Make sure that your surgeon and anesthesiologist get a copy of your testing results before the date of surgery.. Furthermore, it is important for you to bring your CT scans to the operating room with you on the day of surgery.
Enlist a friend. Make sure that you have an adult escort to accompany you when leaving the hospital or surgery center. You will not be able to drive immediately after surgery, and many hospitals/surgery centers will not release you without knowing that someone else is taking you
home. A taxi is really not a good option. This is the time to call in favors: Remember, that’s what friends (and family) are for.