Dr. Dirk Lazarus

Plastic, Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgeon

MBChB (UCT), FCS (SA) Plast & Recon Surg

Pre and Post Operative Instructions

Pre-operative Checklist and Post-operative instructions

Our aim is to get you through your surgical experience as safely, as simply and as comfortably as possible.

  1. Pre-operative preparation at home for recovery

Before surgery ensure that you are well prepared at home. Have enough food at home. Laundry done. Work done. School lifts and lunches for the kids arranged, that kind of thing. Don’t set commitments for after surgery – clear your diary. Make sure you have everything you will need at home before surgery.

After surgery allow yourself the time and space to recover. Post-operatively it is important to rest. Rest facilitates healing and you will feel better if you rest properly. Initially, until you feel better, try and move, especially the operated area, little. Bed or chair is advised.

  1. Diet

Eat healthily before and after surgery.
It might be beneficial to take Vitamin C and Zinc supplementation to aid in wound healing.
Avoid Aspirin containing medication, anti-coagulant medication and all supplements (apart from the above) for 2 weeks prior to surgery as these can cause bleeding issues.
Ensure that after surgery you drink sufficient fluid so that you are passing good volumes of pale urine.

  1. Sleep

Sleep aids recovery. Ensure that you get adequate sleep and rest before and after surgery.

If you think you will need sleeping pills before and/or after surgery then please let us know. We usually use Stilnox 10 mg – take half or one tablet before bed.

More information: http://www.sanofi.com.au/products/aus_cmi_stilnox.pdf

  1. Hygiene: washing and bathing

Bath or shower the night before and the morning of surgery and wash the area to be operated on well. You can use an anti-bacterial soap  although any soap will do.

Post-operative washing instructions depend on the area operated on. Generally try to keep white dressings dry although if they do get wet you can gently dab them (although that will not necessarily dry them). Often I use clear plastic type dressings which can withstand some water and get wet.

  1. Pain

Surgery is never completely pain free, but in general plastic surgery procedures are not that painful and are bearable. We will try to reduce your pain to a level which is easily tolerated. We have a step-wise approach to pain management so as to provide optimal pain relief with minimal side effects. The more steps you go up, the higher the risk of side effects, particularly nausea and vomiting.

It is best to take your medication with meals.

Step 1: Paracetamol 1 tablet plus Stilpane 1 tablet. Take both together every 6 hours.
1 tablet of Paracetamol contains 500 mg of paracetamol.
1 tablet of Stilpane contains 320 mg paracetamol and 8 mg codeine.
The two together optimise the paracetamol dose and the codeine works synergystically with the paracetamol. Codeine can cause gastro-intestinal side effects including constipation.
After a few days, when the pain is less, stop the Stilpane and continue with the Paracetamol only, 1-2 tablets 6 hourly as needed for pain.
Alternative to Stilpane: Myprodol (250 mg paracetamol, 10 mg codeine and 200 mg Ibuprofen).

Step 2: Add Celebrex 200 mg, morning and evening.
Celebrex is an anti-inflammatory (a COX-2 inhibitor) and strong analgesic. Celebrex can also cause gastro-intestinal side effects including heartburn. Celebrex should be taken after meals. If it makes you nauseous then stop it. You do not need to take it – only take it for pain.

Step 3: Oxynorm 5-10 mg, 3-4 times a day as needed. This is a strong analgesic in the same class as morphine (opiate). Tramaset is another opitate which the anaesthetist may prescribe. These can also cause nausea and vomiting and so you should only use them for break through or severe pain. Once the pain is controlled, don’t take them.

More information:
Paracetamol: http://home.intekom.com/pharm/gulf/von-pmol.html
Stilpane: http://home.intekom.com/pharm/lennon/stilpant.html
Mypradol: http://home.intekom.com/pharm/adcock/myprod-c.html
Celebrex: http://home.intekom.com/pharm/searle/celebrex.html
Oxynorm: https://www.drugs.com/uk/oxynorm-10mg-capsules-leaflet.html

  1. Bowel actions

Because constipation can be a problem after some surgery and a side effect of the medication, if you are prone to constipation we can prescribe Movicol.
More information: https://www.drugs.com/uk/movicol-sachets-leaflet.html

  1. Mobility and exercises

To improve circulation and reduce the risk of leg clots it is advisable not to remain totally bed bound during the day, but to move around a bit. Also, while in bed do leg exercises, flexing your toes and ankles, holding them flexed and then extending them and holding the extension. Similarly knee bends are useful. Ten an hour every hour. All patients will receive a full risk assessment prior to surgery.

Getting up from bed should be done in stages. The risk is the blood pressure changes which can occur after surgery and if you get up too quickly then your blood pressure drops, you feel light headed and faint. It is therefore advisable to go from lying to sitting on the bed. Sit for a while until you are sure that you feel fine and not light headed. When you move from sitting to standing, stay near the bed in case you need to lie down again. If you feel light headed then lie down where you are so that at least you don’t fall! Also, if you are prone to low blood pressure or light headedness on getting up ensure that you are drinking sufficiently.

  1. Compresses

Do NOT apply hot or cold compresses after surgery. Post-op sensation is diminished and compresses can cause vascular compromise or thermal injuries like burns. The only exception is for eyelid surgery where where cooling may be comforting and help with swelling. Cooling of your eyelids can be done as follows: combine ice and water in a bowl and circulate two face clothes between the iced water and your eye area – one in the bowl of water/ice and one on your lids.

  1. Dressings

Dressings are placed to protect the wound and frequently to keep sutures in place. Unless otherwise instructed, do not remove or disturb your dressing. Do not remove or cut any sutures. If you feel you need a dressing change, please contact the rooms to arrange to come in to have the dressing inspected and changed by us. I usually use a thin, plastic, waterproof dressing. You can shower with this dressing. It is not unusual for some blood to collect beneath the plastic. A few drops of blood will spread out and look significant. This is usual and not concerning.

I will do the dressing changes at follow up. If you are scared this may be painful, you can take a paracetamol or two about 30-40 minutes beforehand, but it is not usually noticeably sore.

  1. Monitoring for complications or problems

Complications are rare and if they occur they will usually be obvious to you. You do not need to do any specific monitoring, but what is described below are a few details about the most important issues which can arise. If a complication does arise then I will deal with it as appropriate.

The complication that I am most concerned about early after surgery is bleeding. Internal bleeding will be evident as swelling, bruising and pain, usually markedly different from the other side. If this occurs contact me immediately. I will usually ask you to send me a selfie of the area and arrange to see you with a view to a return to theatre to evacuate any blood collection and control the bleeding. Sometimes a little blood will by bypass the dressing and trickle down. If this happens you can apply gentle pressure over the area. If you are concerned then contact me, number below. A small amount of bleeding can be expected after surgery, but if you are concerned, then check with me.

Infection, if it occurs, is a later event, occuring days after surgery. It is characterised by pain, warmth, swelling. Like bleeding, if it occurs it is usually obvious. Again, you should contact me if you are worried.

A painful swollen calf might be indicative of a blood clot. The only way to confirm this would be to send you for a scan. The risk of this is lower with ambulatory surgery (day case surgery) and if you do your calf (airplane) exercises: toe curls, ankle flexes, knee bends. Walking a little also helps.

  1. Check ups

Your first post-operative check up will be 1-3 days after surgery depending on scheduling. Thereafter there will usually be 2 or 3 check ups in the early post-operative period. Further check ups will be arranged accordingly and I have an open door policy in regard to additional check ups. If there is an issue you need to discuss you can either schedule to come in or contact me.

  1. Whom to contact

Dr. Lazarus: 082 656 1961. You can send a Whatsapp picture of the operated area any time.

Danni will call or message you the night before surgery, the evening of surgery and the morning after surgery. Ensure that your phone is on and that you can take her call (private number).

  1. Feedback and rating

If you are satisfied please give me a review on Google. Thank you for trusting me with your surgery.



From a cleft patient who had secondary surgery to help her speech: It is one year ago that i was blessed to meet and know you. Thank you very much for the support you rendered to me while I was in South Africa. I will never forget your acts of kindness. I am fine now and my speech has greatly improved! I think I don’t need another operation. Even though I don’t communicate that often, you are always at heart.