Preparing for Surgery
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Planning ahead

You may have a number of questions about your surgery or things that you want to ask your doctor that will help you to prepare for your surgery and your recovery. It is a good idea to ask your doctor questions that are important to you before your surgery. You can use the ‘questions to ask your doctor before surgery’ questionnaire available from HealthlinkBC to help you ask questions. This form will help you to ask questions that will give you the information that you need to make smart decisions about surgery and recovering from surgery.

Soon after your first meeting with your surgeon your name will be added to your hospital’s waitlist. You will be contacted by either your surgeons’ office or your hospital booking office when a surgery date becomes available. While you are waiting for surgery, it is normal for the surgeon’s office or Interior Health’s surgery booking office to call and ask about your availability, health, and if you are still interested in having surgery.

While you are waiting for your surgery to be booked, you need to contact your surgeon and the booking office if:

  • you decide that you no longer want surgery or are no longer ready, willing, or able to have your surgery.
  • your health changes. If you become injured, ill, pregnant or if you have a health situation that may keep you from having surgery, then you should contact the office.
  • you are not able to keep your surgery date. This could be due to work, vacation, school or other reasons. During your surgical wait you may be unavailable for surgery for at most, a total of six months. If you are unavailable for longer than a total of six months, your surgeon will be contacted and you may be removed from the waitlist.
  • you have a change in address or phone number, or if you move away to another city, province, or country. If you cannot be reached by phone after three attempts, you may be removed from the waitlist.
  • you decide to have your surgery with a different surgeon or hospital. You must let your previous surgeon know. You cannot be on more than one waitlist for the same surgery

Why am I waiting?

The length of time you wait for surgery is affected by a number of factors including:

  • How urgent your needs are compared to other patients that are waiting.
  • The type of surgery that you will be receiving.
  • The number of patients waiting for surgery at the hospital where you will receive your surgery.
  • The number of patients waiting for surgery with your surgeon.
  • Your availability for surgery.  

It is difficult to predict exactly how long you will be waiting. However, you can learn more about typical wait times for your surgery at the surgical wait times website.

If you are concerned about the length of your wait time, speak with your family doctor who may refer you to another surgeon with shorter wait times.

What can I do while waiting?

It is important that you can be reached by phone while waiting for surgery. This will allow us to verify your interest in surgery and confirm your surgery date once it has been booked.

You may also wish to do the following:

  • Get healthy. Ensure your body is in the best possible shape before surgery. This can help you make a safe and speedy recovery.
  • If you smoke, now is the perfect time to stop. Individuals who don’t smoke recover better after surgery. Quitting smoking in the weeks and months before surgery will improve your body’s ability to heal and decrease your risk of complications like pneumonia.
  • If you use street drugs or consume alcohol it is strongly recommended that you stop as they raise your risk of serious complications during and after your surgery.
  • You may want to learn more about what to expect with surgery. Healthlink BC offers a brief overview of what you can expect as you prepare for and recover from your surgery.
  • Start planning for your surgery in advance.
  • Prepare for going home from surgery now
    • Make sure you have a support person, like a trusted family member or friend, who is aware of your health conditions and can help you to and from the hospital. It is extremely important that you have some support in place before you come for surgery. Failure to plan ahead may result in the cancellation of your surgery.
    • You must have a person that can drive you home from your surgery. Interior Health does not pay for return to your home. Do not drive your personal vehicle to the hospital without a plan for someone else to drive it home.
    • Make sure you have all the needed equipment and supplies at your home before your surgery. For example, some people will need a wheelchair or walker in the weeks after their surgery.

The day before your surgery

You will be asked to:

  • Bathe or shower
  • Remove all makeup, and wash off any perfume or scented deodorant before you come to the hospital.  Your surgeon may ask you to wash the surgical site with special soap. Follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully. 
  • It is important to stop eating and/or drinking as directed by your surgeon or the hospital.
  • Follow your surgeon's instructions carefully.



As a step towards reconciliation, Interior Health acknowledges the land that we live, work, and play on as the traditional territories of the Dakelh Dene, Ktunaxa, Nlaka’pamux, Secwepemc, St’at’imc, Syilx and Tsilhqot’in peoples. It is with humility that we continue to strengthen our relationships with the First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples of the interior.
MoH     PCQO