What to Expect for Your Surgery

We understand that surgery can be scary. And it may be a new experience for you and your family. To help with some of that unease, we want to make sure you are prepared and know what to expect before, during and after your surgery. Throughout your experience, our committed teams promise to keep you safe, care for you, involve you and your family, and respect you and your time.

Before Your Surgery

Preoperative Assessment Clinic Visit

Once your surgery is scheduled, a nurse navigator will call you to discuss your individual plan of care. That plan may involve a visit to the Preoperative Assessment Clinic (PAC) at the Medical Center campus or at Davie Medical Center, depending on where your surgery is scheduled.

During your PAC visit, our team will address any ongoing medical concerns and answer any questions you have. You will receive specific instructions regarding what to do to prepare for surgery, including any medication adjustments you may need to make. At the end of your PAC visit, you should receive an after-visit summary with all the important information you need to remember.

At your PAC visit, you will also receive a thorough review of your anesthetic options. Please note the final decision for anesthesia won’t be made until the evening before your surgery.

Your Support Person

Before your surgery you should identify a support person to help you before, during and after your surgery. This person can provide your transportation after your surgery. For your safety, you will not be able to drive yourself home, and transportation by bus or taxi is not allowed.

If you are going home the same day as your surgery (outpatient surgery) a support person should stay with you for 24 hours after surgery.

The Night Before Your Surgery

The night before your surgery, be sure to follow any of the instructions from your after-visit summary.

Please note that due to the need to accommodate urgent and emergent surgeries, we cannot inform you of the time to arrive for surgery until the day before. If you have not heard about your schedule by 3 pm the day before your surgery, call 336-713-6000.

Find more tips on how to prepare for your surgery in your Getting Ready for Surgery packet.

The Day of Your Surgery

On the day of your surgery, make sure to leave any valuables at home, but bring a photo ID. Your support person will drive you to the hospital.

Where to Go

On the day of surgery you should park in Parking Deck C and enter via the walkway to the Cancer Center. There will be greeters at the end of the walkway to assist if needed. Adult surgical check-in and family waiting is in the back of the cafeteria on Main Floor, Ardmore Tower. Pediatric check in and family waiting is on the 7th floor of Ardmore Tower. See maps, directions and parking for more detailed directions.

You should check in at your scheduled check-in time, which is usually about 1-2 hours before your scheduled surgery start time.

If you need help with a wheelchair or other assistance, go to the main Medical Center entrance. Valet parking is available for a fee.

If you are scheduled at Davie Medical Center, get directions here.


Your nurse will call you back to prepare you for surgery. An IV will be started. Your surgical team will confirm your name, date of birth, type and location of your surgery. For your safety, the same questions will be asked several times as you go different places during the surgery process.

Your support person and any family and friends will remain in the waiting room until updated by the surgeon or a member of the surgery team.

In the Operating Room

Your operating room anesthesia team will continue to provide anesthesia and monitor your breathing, heart rate, oxygen level and blood pressure, as well as adjust your fluids and medications throughout your surgery. There will always be someone with you to manage your anesthesia and keep you safe.

After you are sedated (drowsy) and numb, the nurses may place a catheter in your bladder if your surgery is expected to take many hours or your surgeons feel you will need one after surgery. Operating rooms are cool, but your team will keep you as warm as possible with forced-air warming blankets or warmed fabric blankets.

After Your Surgery

Post Anesthesia Care Unit

Once your surgery is completed, you will go to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) where you will be under the care of nurses who are specifically trained to care for people recovering from surgery and anesthesia. Some patients may go to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after surgery, if needed.

The length of time a patient is in the PACU depends on several things, including the type of surgery, the type of anesthesia, the amount of pain or nausea, or the need for special treatments.

The average PACU recovery time for adults is 1 to 3 hours. If you are being discharged home that day, your support person will be called to join you in the PACU. If you need to stay in the hospital, your visitors will be directed to your room.

If you are staying overnight, you doctor will direct you on what you can eat and when. Your care team will also help you get up and moving as soon as possible after surgery. This helps your body heal faster.

Pain Management

We will do our best to help you manage your pain, but you are likely to experience some. Our pain specialists will work with you and your doctor to manage your pain.

Be sure to communicate with your nurse about your level of pain and whether your medications are helping. Your physicians, advanced practice providers, or nurse may ask you to rate your level of pain on a scale of 10, both before and after you get your pain medicine. This helps to ensure that we are providing effective pain relief.

When you have recovered from your surgery sufficiently to consider discharge, your surgical team will prescribe pain medications if needed. They will create a plan to help you decrease the dosage until the medicine is no longer needed for you to move well and continue your recovery.

Discomfort is a normal part of surgery, however our goal is to enable you to move freely and comfortable, get out of bed and take short walks once your recovery allows. This gradual progress can help to advance your recovery and shorten your hospital stay.