Preparing for Surgery: 5 Techniques to Help You Mentally Prepare

Preparing for Surgery: 5 Techniques to Help You Mentally Prepare

Jan 20 2021

After finding out that surgery is on the horizon, your mind likely starts racing.

You’re sure to have questions running through your head:

“How will my body react to surgery?”

“How long will it take me to recover?”

“Is this doctor the best for this procedure?”

“Do I have any alternatives?”

“How am I going to afford this?”

“What COVID-19 precautions are in place?”

Several studies have shown that physical AND emotional and mental preparation for surgery helps lead to a better recovery period. By asking the right questions, knowing what to expect and then taking steps to prepare ahead of time, you’ll feel most comfortable. Do research, voice your concerns and get all the answers you need to reduce your anxiety before heading into a surgical procedure.

Here are some great techniques to follow when preparing for surgery to help you receive the highest quality care, without tacking on unnecessary costs. That’s right — it’s possible to have both.

1. Make sure you have the right doctor, for you.

This should not just be based on your health condition, but also about who makes you feel most comfortable, supported and prepared. Talking with your doctor until you feel satisfied that the recommended procedure is right for you is extremely important. The doctor should help you understand the benefits of the surgery, any available alternatives and what your recovery timeline looks like. Never be afraid to speak up, ask questions, get clarification – that’s what the doctor is there for. The objective is to prepare yourself for optimal results.

Most health plans offer a Find a Doctor tool so that members can search for doctors by location, hospital affiliation and specialty.

2. Do your homework outside of the doctor’s office.

After a surgery has been recommended, take some time prior to your next appointment to arm yourself with information about your procedure and any alternatives worth considering. Today, accessing extensive information on medical procedures is easy via websites like WebMD and

Here’s short list of important topics to cover with your doctor:

  •         The type of procedure, its benefits, risks and alternatives
  •         Any concerns you may have
  •        The doctor’s experience with this specific procedure
  •         Expectations for recovery, including timeline

Doing the research ahead of time and coming to your appointment prepared ensures that you use your time in front of the doctor effectively and get all the answers you need to feel comfortable.

3. It never hurts to get a second opinion.

The U.S. Department of Health Services recommends always getting a second opinion when your surgery is not an emergency. Speaking to another caregiver will provide you with added reassurance or help you determine if you should consider alternatives. Be sure to check if your health plan requires or covers a second opinion. In 2021, many of these appointments can be virtual.

4. Prepare for surgery before the big day

Once you’ve determined the right doctor and confirmed that your moving forward with the recommended procedure, it’s all about preparing for the actual surgery.

Check with your doctor or your health plan to see if they offer any interactive medical information as part of your pre-authorization process. Maybe there is a support group with others who have had this type of surgery or resources such as videos that walk you through the procedure step-by-step so that you know what to expect. 

In addition, do something that helps you relax and reduce stress — practice yoga, walk the dog, paint. These techniques could also be incorporated into the recovery process, pending doctor approval, to help you feel better more quickly.

5. Knowing the fair price of a procedure and your facility options puts you in the position of power.

How much you spend on a procedure can vary greatly depending on where you live and the facility you choose. Like any major purchase, it’s important to know the cost and quality, before you sign on the dotted line. Plus, knowing the expense beforehand will allow you to plan ahead and hopefully reduce the financial burden that having surgery might put on you and your family.

Logging into Healthcare Bluebook gives you access to the fair market price and patient reviews for more than 300 common procedures by zip code. Having this information gives you an idea of what you should expect to pay across the country and whether a specific facility is priced far above average. To take it a step further, some health insurers offer cost information based on the specific member’s health plan. Priority Health, for example, provides the Cost Estimator tool, which allows members to see cost information based on their specific health plan, deductible, co-pay and get a full estimate of expected costs for the procedure that they are about to receive.

Needing and preparing for surgery, no matter how minor, is serious business. Tap into the resources that will help you make the right decision and go into any procedure with confidence, mentally and emotionally prepared.