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ANSWERS TO COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Joseph T. Barmakian, MD

 

Q.    When can I drive after the surgery?

A.     As far as the anesthetic is concerned, you may drive beginning the day after surgery.  However, your ability to drive will also be effected by the particular surgical procedure performed, and the amount of pain medication you are taking.  It is difficult to generalize as to when it is safe for each particular person to drive.  Therefore, you should discuss this matter with Dr. Barmakian at the time of your surgery.  As a general rule, you probably should plan to avoid driving until after your first post-operative visit.

 

Q.    When can I shower after the surgery?

A.     The important thing to remember is that you must keep the dressing/cast dry.  You may shower as soon as you want after the surgery, but you must cover the dressing or cast in a plastic bag to keep it dry.  It is not necessary to purchase a special bag to wrap around the dressing or cast.  Any plastic bag will do.  For a hand or wrist, the plastic bag that a newspaper comes in works well.  For the entire arm, you may want to use a ‘kitchen size’ garbage bag. 

 

          Q.  What should I wear on the day of surgery?

A.  Plan to wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing on the day of surgery.  You will remove your clothing and wear a hospital-type gown for the surgery.  Since you will have a surgical dressing in place, it is best to wear or bring a large short sleeved shirt or blouse so that it will be easy to get dressed to go home.

Q.    Why can’t I eat or drink before the operation?

A.  For your safety, your stomach must be empty at the time you receive anesthesia. Therefore, it is very important that you not eat or drink for 8 hours prior to your surgery.  If you are scheduled for an afternoon operation, you still must not eat or drink after midnight the night before the procedure, as cancellations may occur that would move up your surgical time. 

 

Q.  How much pain will I have after the surgery?

A.  In general, operations involving bone work will hurt more than operations not involving the bone.  However, everyone experiences pain differently, and it is very difficult to predict exactly how much pain you will have.  Dr. Barmakian will provide you with a prescription for the pain medication appropriate for your particular surgery.  Sometimes, he will give two different medications that work together to relieve your pain.  It is always best to take pain medication before the pain becomes severe, so don’t wait until you can’t stand the pain before taking the medication.  If the medication is not adequately relieving your pain, call Dr. Barmakian.

 

Q.  Should I change my dressing after the surgery?

A.  You should NOT change or remove the surgical dressing unless specifically instructed to do so by Dr. Barmakian.  A post-operative appointment has been made for you 3 – 12 days after the surgery.  Dr. Barmakian will change your dressing at that time.  Sutures are usually removed 10 - 12 days after the operation. 

 

Q.  What if I see blood on my dressing?

A.  It is not unusual to see a small amount of blood seep through the dressing.  If this occurs, you can ignore it or simply cover the area with additional gauze or wrap.  If there is more than a small amount of staining, or if the bleeding is excessive or bright red, you should reinforce the area with additional gauze and call Dr. Barmakian.

 

Q.  What should I do if my dressing or cast is too tight?

A.   In most cases, the ‘cast’ is really a half-cast, not a full circular cast.  A half-cast consists of hard plaster to immobilize the area, but also has a soft area to allow for swelling.  Keeping your hand elevated above the level of your heart is the most important way to decrease swelling. You can also use ice to help decrease the swelling. If you feel that your dressing or cast is too tight, call Dr. Barmakian.