• Dan Kao

5 Tips if Your Surgery is Postponed

With the COVID virus forcing many states to cancel elective surgeries, chances are that if you had a surgical procedure scheduled for this spring or summer it’s now been postponed or cancelled. This may seem like a set back for you moving forward with your life or recovery process, but it doesn’t have to be that way! In fact, taking this advantage of this time to further prepare for your upcoming surgery will shorten your recovery time, decrease pain, and begin good habits to prevent having more surgeries.

Check out these 5 tips to taking advantage of your elective surgery being postponed!

Continue your prehab program

Getting yourself into physical shape prior to surgery has been shown to improve immediate post-op function [1]. This will help you maximize the benefits of your surgery. Many surgeons now require that their patients undergo a pre-habilitation program prior to surgery. Take advantage of the additional time to continue your prehab exercise regimen and even begin working on some rehab exercises to be ahead of the curve! Many physical therapist clinics now offer telehealth sessions that can be done from home. This is particularly helpful when you may be working from home due to the Corona Virus and may need your workouts modified!

Start that healthy diet

Proper nutrition is a key component to helping you recover from your surgery! Having enough intake of protein is key for wound healing, and forming antibodies to fight infections [2]. Increasing protein also means looking at alternative sources of protein such as beans, chicken, fish, and tofu. Red meat has been shown to increase inflammation that may impair wound healing [2]. An undesired side effect that may occur post-operatively is constipation, due to the anesthesia, medications or changes in bowel regimen. Ensuring that you have enough fiber in your diet will help you avoid that discomfort! Many patients also experience a lack of appetite after surgery, making it difficult to eat enough calories for proper recovery. Take the time now to stock up on protein shakes or try out different smoothie recipes that you may enjoy when you get back from surgery!

Engage in good mental hygiene

An unfortunate part of surgery will be pain during the recovery. The expectation then becomes not to have the pain be non-existent, but to be at a manageable level. Part of your pain regimen will have pain medications involved, but exploring alternative strategies will allow you to not only rely on medications for pain management. Alternative methods such as mindfulness meditation [3], Reiki therapy [4], visualization therapy [5], and pet therapy [6] have been shown to help reduce pain and anxiety! There are many apps out there such as Headspace that can help you start your meditation practice for free! Starting early will help you get into the mindset easier when the pain is at its worst and also reduce the anxiety of something as serious as a surgical procedure!

Do additional research

Many times the days and weeks leading up to surgery are a whirlwind and before you know it, the day is here and you still may have many questions. Take the additional time to learn more about your surgery, what the recovery process is like, and what medications may be involved. The additional time may also give you an opportunity to speak with your provider to answer any last minute questions that you may have!

Continue post-op preparations

Once the surgery is done is when the hard work really begins. Taking the extra time to make sure your home is properly prepared will make your life much easier and recovery less stressful. Make sure that anything that could be a trip hazard is cleared out of the way as well as things that may be high out of reach where it is accessed easier. If your bedroom is upstairs it may be well worth considering making arrangements to sleep downstairs. Finally, make sure to have your refrigerator and freezer stocked with easy to make or ready made meals!

Hope these tips will help you make the most of your time if your surgery has been delayed!


Daniel Kao is an Orthopedic Acute Care Nurse Practitioner currently practicing in New York City. He received his B.S. in Physiology at UCLA and then completed his BSN and MSN at Columbia University. When he's not working you can find him looking for the next great beer.


Have more questions about your upcoming surgery? Sign up today for your free personalized pre-op consult with a Orthopedic/Spine Nurse Practitioner or Medical Device Specialist today!



  1. Jahic, D., Omerovic, D., Tanovic, A. T., Dzankovic, F., & Campara, M. T. (2018, December). The Effect of Prehabilitation on Postoperative Outcome in Patients Following Primary Total Knee Arthroplasty. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30814777

  2. Nutrition Guidelines Following Surgery. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2020, from https://www.theportlandclinic.com/wp-content/uploads/nutritionalguidelines.10813-3.pdf

  3. Zeidan F, Adler-Neal AL, Wells RE, et al. Mindfulness-meditation-based pain relief is not mediated by endogenous opioids. Journal of Neuroscience. 2016;36(11):3391-3397.

  4. Thrane, S., & Cohen, S. M. (2014, December). Effect of Reiki therapy on pain and anxiety in adults: an in-depth literature review of randomized trials with effect size calculations. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4147026/

  5. Molinari, G., García-Palacios, A., Enrique, Á., Roca, P., Fernández-Llanio Comella, N., & Botella, C. (2018, July 1). The Power of Visualization: Back to the Future for Pain Management in Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29294081

  6. Marcus, D. A., Bernstein, C. D., Constantin, J. M., Kunkel, F. A., Breuer, P., & Hanlon, R. B. (2012, January). Animal-assisted therapy at an outpatient pain management clinic. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22233395

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