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Surgery Prep

Top 5 Things to Know While Preparing for Surgery

By: Gigi Dhaliwal, MSPAS, PA-C Physician Assistant at the Crane Center for Transgender Surgery

You just had your consultation and walked out with a date for surgery, you’re excited and can’t wait for this next step to your journey and suddenly it hits you, “I have so much to do!”. We understand that feeling and aware this is a lengthy process full of a rollercoaster of emotions. With that being said, this post is created to outline the top 5 things that patients should know while preparing for their surgery.

1. Make sure all caregivers and a safe place to recover is coordinated

Your surgery team strives to ensure its patients are safe and comfortable during recovery in order to have the best possible surgical outcome. With that being said, your post-surgical recovery plans are very important to us. We want to make sure patients are supported and have adequate assistance during their postoperative period. It is important to coordinate these arrangements as soon as possible to avoid any last-minute stressors.  

2. Submit all letters of support in a timely manner

Speaking of stressors, letters can be a complete pain! Letters of support act as a moving target sometimes as there are so many requirements set in place by your insurance company. The most important thing to note about letters, aside from the required content within the letter, is to ensure they all fall within 12 months of your surgical date. Doing so can eliminate last minute complications with receiving an authorization for your surgery. 

3. Complete all labs, medical clearances, hair-removal, pre-surgical requirements

Medical requirements prior to your surgery are extremely important. Depending on the surgery and your past medical history, your provider may have informed you to obtain certain labs, clearances or pre-surgical requirements. Most of these requirements should be received 14-30 days prior to your surgical date. Other requirements such as electrolysis or a hysterectomy should begin 1 year or greater 3 months before your surgical date respectively. If you are unsure about the timeline for each requirement, reach out to your surgeon’s office to get clarification. It’s important to be aware of all that is required prior to surgery so you can set a realistic timeline for yourself.

4. Prepare supplies needed during your recovery

Although you may not need to purchase many medical supplies prior to surgery, your surgeon’s office generally provides a list of supplies that are recommended. If you wish to order supplies to utilize during your postoperative period, it is important to obtain them in an ample amount of time prior to your surgery to avoid any last-minute scrambling for supplies. If you are unsure which supplies are recommended during your postoperative period, get clarification from your surgeon’s office to reduce the risk of purchasing non-essential supplies. 

5. Take a deep breath and know you are supported by your team.

This may be the single most important tip on this list. With all the moving parts, preparation and emotions during the preoperative period, it is important to know your team supports you! We all understand that this process is not an easy one and strive to make this process as easy as we can for our patients. Whether it be questions you forgot to ask during your consultation, assistance to find providers to write letters, places to stay close-by – we are here for you!

With all of this being said, don’t forget to take this journey day by day, it’s a beautiful one!

Gigi Dhaliwal, MPAS, PA-C is a Nationally Board-Certified Physician Assistant who is specializes in reconstructive surgery. Gigi works closely with both Dr. Michael Safir and Dr. Angela Rodriguez at the Crane Center for Transgender Surgery in San Francisco, assisting with the management of patients during all aspects of their surgical transition.

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