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Your top embarrassing surgery questions answered

14 June 2021 Blog
General surgery Bariatric surgery Gastroenterology Orthopaedics
Have you ever had a burning question to ask before surgery, but been too embarrassed to ask? St John of God Murdoch Hospital's Day Procedure Unit Nurse Manager Summa Lewington breaks down some of the most common questions people have, but don’t want to ask out loud.

What if I smell because I can’t wear deodorant?

You will be asked to refrain from applying deodorant, perfume, moisturisers and powder on your skin before surgery. You can usually shower the morning of your surgery and this is encouraged. We know people can get nervous and sweat more, however it is completely normal and you don’t need to be embarrassed.

Why do I have to take off my clothes?

You will be asked to change into a hospital gown before your procedure. You will most likely be required to remove all undergarments. We understand this can be confronting and uncomfortable for some people, however it is required for surgery, assists in an emergency and ensures your personal garments aren’t unnecessarily cut or stained. We do have disposable hospital underwear we can offer.

Why does the gown expose my rear?

Gowns are designed to give you as much privacy as possible, while providing ease for staff to access the surgery site during your procedure. In the unlikely event there is a medical emergency, it will help caregivers save time not having to cut or ruin your clothing.

Are staff looking at my private parts?

No, they are not. Our caregivers have seen hundreds of bodies in their careers and are not looking at you, other than in a clinical matter to complete your surgery. Caregivers are also bound by clinical codes regarding patient privacy.

What if I have my period?

If you have your period on the day of your surgery, please inform a caregiver. You may be asked to use a pad rather than a tampon, in case you need to be catheterised during
or after surgery.

Why can’t I wear nail polish or acrylic nails?

Nail polish and acrylic nails can interfere with monitors placed on your finger/s to measure your heart rate and effectiveness of your lungs. Please arrange removal prior to surgery.

Why can’t I wear jewellery?

We ask you not to wear jewellery to hospital for both safety and security reasons. During your surgery, additional scans may be ordered which do not allow jewellery be worn, and we can’t be held
responsible for removing and looking after personal effects. Please leave these items in a safe location at home.

Why do I have to repeat my name so often?

Patient safety is our top priority. This means we will ask you to verify your identity several times as you move to different areas within the hospital. We are not doing this to annoy you but to make
sure we have the right patient undergoing the correct surgery.

Is anyone recording or repeating the silly things I say when I’m under anaesthetic?

No, they are not. Caregivers have your safety in mind. They may have a chuckle if you say something funny, however they are bound by patient confidentiality.

What if I wet/soil myself whilst in theatre?

This happens very, very rarely. There is a toilet in holding bay and you can use this before your procedure, if you haven’t had a chance to go before or suddenly need to. Should you wet or soil yourself, caregivers will assist to clean and change you.

What if I’m breastfeeding?

If you are breastfeeding at the time of your surgery you will still be asked to take off your bra, however this can be done just before going into theatre. We can provide pads that can be lightly fixed to your skin during the procedure for any leakage / letdown.

After your operation you will be given instructions from the anaesthetist regarding expressing your breast milk and when you can safely resume using this milk for feeding your baby. You will be able to feed you baby prior going to theatre if you need to.

St John of God Murdoch Hospital's DPU nurse unit manager Summa Lewington
Summa Lewington - DPU Nurse Manager
Summa has been with St John of God Health Care for seven years, after working in hospitals across Perth as an agency nurse in recovery for over a decade. She manages the 48-bed Day Procedure Unit at St John of God Murdoch Hospital and has also acted as the Deputy Director of Nursing, Procedural Services.