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Regenerative Medicine

How to Prepare For Surgery – What to Expect

By Last updated on November 24th, 2022November 24th, 2022No Comments

The option to undergo surgery can be a scary one. The process can range in intensity and have various recovery times and associated pain levels. Recovery times can be only a few days, or it could take months to years to fully recover.

Many surgical procedures will come with a well-known set of risks and potential complications. It is important to learn as much information as possible before deciding to undergo surgery.

Getting Informed: How to Talk to Your Doctor

Having an open conversation with your doctor is the first step before surgery. In many cases, when surgery is being discussed, diagnostic testing has already taken place. This may include X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans.

Producing an image of the injured area can give doctors a better idea of what type of surgery needs to occur. It is important during the entire process that you be honest with your doctor about what symptoms you are experiencing so that they can provide the best treatment.

Ensure that expectations are clear before moving forward with surgery. Ask for specifics regarding operation and recovery time.

Formulate the recovery plan together with your doctor. They will be able to incorporate a patient’s specific needs into their recovery plan. For example, someone who has arthritis may need a little extra care during the surgery and recovery than someone who does not.

Finally, consider taking notes of the conversation with the doctor. It allows patients to sort out their thoughts during the appointment, as well as write down questions and concerns as they may arise.

Making the Decision

Most surgical operations are voluntary, especially those for chronic pain. Some of the factors that may influence the decision to have surgery are:

  • The severity of pain leading up to the surgery: does it impact daily life, and if so, to what extent?
  • Affordability: surgery can become a significant financial burden. In many cases, patients will wait to have surgery until they have saved enough money.
  • Support system: patients who have undergone surgery will benefit greatly from having people around them who can drive them and help them around the house immediately after surgery. It is entirely possible to recover from surgery alone with the help of hospice or at-home nurses, but a support system can make a huge difference.
  • Activity level: a patient’s activity level often changes drastically after surgery. This could lead to weight gain, weight loss, muscle cramping, and other complications. It is important to be prepared for this possibility.
  • Executing the recovery protocol: recovering from a surgery, whether minor or major, requires a massive effort by the patient. There can be great physical pain and emotional turmoil due to the disruption of the daily routine.
  • Accessibility: undergoing surgery for some patients may involve traveling to a different city which comes with its own set of considerations.

Preparing for Surgery

The protocol of preparation will be slightly different for each surgery. Generally, these are some preparations that need to be made for most surgeries:

  • Take time off of work: for patients who are not retired, employers must be aware of how long a patient will need to recover. This can vary depending on the intensity of the surgery – some surgeries allow patients to return to work within a matter of days, other more major surgeries require weeks to months to recover. It is also important to manage expectations surrounding paid leave.
  • Testing: some doctors may need a blood or urine sample before the surgery takes place. This typically only takes a couple of minutes and may take place days before the operation.
  • Arrange a ride from the hospital and aftercare: most surgeries require that a patient be picked up from the operating room by an outside party. There may also be disturbances to daily life that require a helping hand such as using the bathroom or moving around the house.
  • Food and beverage restrictions: most surgeons will ask that a patient stop eating for a certain amount of time before an operation. They may also ask that a patient drink nothing during this time.
  • Follow bathing instructions: doctors may recommend that the operation area be cleaned or sometimes even shaved before an operation. Be sure to ask your doctor or surgeon what they recommend.
  • Bring a change of clothes: bring a clean change of clothes for extended hospital stays. The more comfortable the clothes are, the better.

Once you have decided to undergo surgery, it is important to have clear expectations about what the recovery process will look like. Maintaining an open discussion with doctors and surgeons allows patients to enter the surgery with ease knowing how much of their time will be taken by the operation.

Learn About Anesthesia

Learn About Anesthesia

Operations that use anesthesia will have their own set of risks. It is important to know which type will be applied in your surgery. There are 3 major types of anesthesia:

  • Local anesthesia: applied only to the surgery site to numb it, and the patient may or may not be awake.
  • Regional anesthesia: used to operate on major bodily parts like an arm, a leg, or everything below the waist. You might be awake or under anesthesia throughout the treatment.
  • General anesthesia: applied to the patient’s whole body, often causing them to lose consciousness during the procedure. General anesthesia is riskier than local or regional anesthesia.


It is important to ensure that the person administering anesthesia is properly qualified to do so. Physician anesthesiologists are the most qualified for this position. Patients should have an opportunity to talk to their anesthesiologist before any medication is administered.

During this time patients can gain more knowledge about what will be put in their bodies and how it might affect them. They will be well-informed about the risks involved and should be able to share them with you.

Emotionally Preparing for Surgery

Some factors will be difficult to prepare for. It is important to be aware of the personal impact of surgery. Some of these include:

  • Emotional toll: it can be draining to lay in bed for several days, only to go home where everything will be different for some time. Depending on the surgery, daily tasks as simple as drinking a glass of water can become difficult.
  • Overcoming obstacles: it may feel like there are setbacks during the recovery process. Though some tasks can feel impossible, they will feel very rewarding once they are achieved.
  • Lifestyle changes: immediately following an operation, certain tasks that were easy before may become much more difficult. It is important to ask for help when you need it and remember that this is temporary.

Alternatives to Surgery: Considering All the Possibilities

Choosing to undergo surgery can understandably feel like a life-altering decision. There may be other options, however. The field of regenerative medicine offers hope for patients who are facing the decision to undergo surgery. 

There are two common regenerative treatments available at CELLAXYS:

  • Cell-based therapies: also known as cell-based therapies, this form of treatment harvests the patient’s own cells or “autologous” tissues, concentrates them, and reinjects them into the injury site. Depending on your condition, the doctor may extract healthy cells from your adipose (fat) tissue, called Minimally Manipulated Adipose Tissue (MMAT) transplant, or from your bone marrow, called Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMAC). 
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy: PRP therapy draws a blood sample from the patient, processes it, and isolates platelets. Platelets are the healing components in our body, which are then reinjected into the injury site. They contain 10 Growth Factors to stimulate the growth of healthy tissues and release chemical signals to attract healing cells from the blood. They also produce a web-like scaffolding that accelerates the development of healthy tissues. 

Cell-based and PRP therapies are outpatient procedures, meaning you can go home after the treatment. Cell-based therapies take about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete, while PRP is completed in 45 minutes. 

Doctors use live X-rays and ultrasounds to locate the exact transplant spot. Unlike surgery, these forms of therapy have little to no downtime after they are performed. They can be more cost-effective than some surgeries and are generally low risk as they use the patient’s own cells. 

Members of the team at CELLAXYS can provide consultation to discuss how regenerative therapy may be the right treatment for you.

Dr. Pouya Mohajer

Director of Regenerative Interventional Spine Medicine
Board certification in Anesthesiology and Interventional Pain Medicine
Fellowship-trained from Harvard University
UCLA Alumni


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