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Preparing for surgery

Preparing for surgery

If your child is scheduled for a surgical procedure, there are some helpful steps to follow before and after surgery to make things go smoothly and to keep your child safe and comfortable.

Little girl with teddy bear

Things to remember

  • Bring driver's license/photo ID, insurance card and financial screening papers (if applicable).
  • Plan for a responsible adult to drive home or ride with a minor child in a cab. Surgery will be cancelled if an adult is not with a minor child at the time of discharge.
  • Bring money for prescriptions.
  • Bring extra diapers and formula.
  • Do not bring additional children on the day of surgery.
  • Do not plan other appointments for after the surgery. Your child will need to go home to rest and recover. Arrange for you or another responsible adult to stay home with your child after surgery.

Pre-surgery to-do list

  • Have your child bathe or shower using soap within 12 hours of surgery.
  • Have your child wear loose-fitting clothing and flat shoes.
  • Make sure your child takes all medicines as instructed.
  • Don't forget all of your child's important paperwork pertaining to guardianship, custody arrangements and health insurance.
  • Don't shave or wax any area of your child's body one week before surgery.
  • Don't have your child wear contact lenses, nail polish, acrylic nails, make-up, jewelry, false eyelashes, hair pieces, hairpins or clips.
  • Don't have your child wear any body piercings.

Eating and drinking before surgery

  • No clear liquids for 2 hours before procedure
  • No breast milk for 3 hours before procedure
  • No milk or formula for 6 hours before procedure
  • No solid food for 6 hours before procedure

Clear liquids include CLEAR juice (no pulp), Pedialyte, water, clear carbonated sodas and sports drinks. 

Solid foods include regular food, milk, thick juices and candy.

It is important to follow the instructions given to you with your pre-procedure call for the time to stop liquids and food. Failure to follow these instructions may result in postponement or cancellation of your child's procedure.


There are two parking options for surgeries on the MCV Campus:

Self parking: Patient and Visitor Deck (available around the clock)
Valet parking: Gateway Building (Valet parking is available from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

Your child's pre-operative care includes check in by a nurse, discussion of anesthesia, starting an IV and a review of the plan for surgery with the surgical team. Please be aware that unexpected situations may cause delays.

Discomfort after surgery

During the first 24 hours after surgery, your child may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Appear flushed, irritable or fussy
  • Constipation and flatulence (gas)
  • Nausea and vomiting (from general anesthesia)
  • Poor reflexes or coordination
  • Restlessness and sleeplessness
  • Soreness and swelling around the incision site
  • Soreness in the throat (if your child had artificial ventilation to assist with breathing during surgery)
  • Thirst

Complications after surgery

  • Any new or unusual symptoms
  • Blood-soaked dressing on or around the surgical site (It is normal for there to be small amounts of oozing on the bandages.)
  • Excessive swelling around the surgical area
  • Fever over 101 degrees taken by mouth (or by rectum in infants)
  • Inability to urinate within 6 hours of the end of surgery
  • Increased redness, warmth or hardness around the incision area
  • Increasing and progressive drainage from the surgical area
  • Numbness, tingling or cold fingers or toes
  • Odor coming from the surgical site
  • Pain not relieved by the medication recommended or prescribed by your child's surgeon
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting

You are your child's best expert. If your child's behavior or symptoms become worrisome, it is best to let the surgeon know.

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