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Learning About Enhanced Recovery After Surgery

What is enhanced recovery after surgery?

Enhanced recovery after surgery, or ERAS, is a way to help people prepare for surgery. The goal is to help you get ready for surgery and get better sooner. Before your surgery, you:

  • Eat well in the days leading up to the surgery.
  • Drink lots of clear fluids.
  • Learn some basic information about your surgery. Doing this can put your mind at ease.

Your doctor will explain any other tips to help you recover. You may have to avoid some foods. You may also need to empty your colon with a laxative or an enema.

During surgery, you may get different kinds of medicine for pain. This can help you heal sooner and feel less pain later.

Soon after surgery, you will also drink fluids, eat as soon as you can, and try to walk a little. Different types of pain medicine may be used after surgery. This can also reduce the need for opioids and reduce side effects like constipation.

These recovery tips may be recommended for many types of surgeries, such as:

  • Colorectal surgery.
  • Surgery on the veins, arteries, heart, lungs, or other organs.
  • Surgery to remove a growth (tumour).

Knowing what to expect before, during, and after surgery can help ease your fears. It can also help you take an active role in your recovery. Ask the doctor any questions you may have.

How do you prepare for surgery?

  • Eat healthy foods in the week leading up to your surgery. Eat carbohydrates the night before, like some pasta, rice, toast or cereal. This can help your energy level after the surgery. Your doctor will tell you how long before surgery to stop eating.
  • Drink clear liquids, such as water, broth, clear apple or cranberry juice, or sports drinks (with the right balance of electrolytes), even on your way to the hospital. Your doctor will tell you when you should stop drinking liquids.
  • Your doctor will also tell you if you should stop taking any medicines.
  • Your doctor might suggest that you bring a few packs of gum to the hospital for after the surgery. Chewing some gum may help stimulate the digestive system.
  • Stop smoking at least 4 weeks before your surgery. Smoking can delay recovery. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Try to get more exercise in the weeks leading up to your surgery. Even a little walking can help. The better shape you are in, the sooner you are likely to recover.

What can you expect during your surgery?

You will get medicine so that you relax and don't feel pain during your surgery.

The surgical team will closely watch your fluid levels during the surgery to keep you well hydrated.

What can you expect after your surgery?

You will drink water and eat healthy foods as soon as you can after surgery. Try to sit up in a chair while you eat.

The doctor or nurse will encourage you to get up and walk as soon as you can. The more you can move, or at least sit up in a chair, the better.

Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

  • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
  • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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