Surgery safety checklist

Surgery safety

Preparing yourself mentally and physically for surgery is an important step toward a successful result.

An integral part of cosmetic surgery or even a noninvasive procedure is knowing what to expect. Informing yourself about the safety issues involved and adequate preparation will ensure better results as well as peace of mind.

Educate yourself

Make sure you ask your doctor about all the pertinent details of your surgical procedure. Educate yourself about the surgery. Learn as much as possible ahead of time about post-operative care, precautions and possible complications.

Practitioner’s credentials

One of the most important factors in the success of cosmetic surgery is the surgeon you select. The combination of training and judgment that he or she brings to your case strongly affects the results.

Find an experienced surgeon who makes you feel comfortable, is appropriately qualified to practice and is a member of a professional body. Find out what training the surgeon has and whether it is in the field of surgery you are considering. Ask how many of these types of procedures the surgeon performs in a year and how long he or she has been doing them. Ask to see some of the surgeon’s results. You can also check with the Australian Medical Board whether the surgeon has ever been the subject of a malpractice suit.

If you are considering a non-surgical procedure, the same considerations in regard to appropriate training and experience apply.

It is important to remember no surgery is completely without risk. Potential complications, their frequency and treatment, should be researched and discussed before any procedure. During consultation, make sure you go through the risks involved thoroughly with the surgeon, how often they occur and what action the practitioner will take to avoid them. It’s a good idea to ascertain which hospital(s) a surgeon works in or can admit patients to in case of an emergency. This will enable you to check the surgeon’s credentials with the hospital.

If you are undergoing surgery, be sure to ask what the surgeon’s policy is in regard to possible surgical revision.


If a general anaesthetic is required, find out who will be administering it and what their qualifications are. Be aware that a small but significant percentage of the population is allergic to some of the chemicals in even local anaesthetic and raise this with your practitioner during consultation.

Location and facilities

Is the location where the procedure is to take place fully equipped with lifesaving and monitoring devices? Look for a practice clinic that has been accredited by the Australian Council on Health Care Standards (ACHS). Especially in the case of day surgery office-based procedures, a sterile environment and equipment are of prime importance. Ask the practitioner what protocols they have in place.

Avoid non-clinical settings, even for minor procedures. An injectable should always be administered using sterile equipment in an appropriate setting, by a person who has been properly trained.


Make sure that you are realistically informed about the amount of pain you will experience and how long discomfort should normally persist.

Ask the practitioner what measures they will be taking to manage this and what you need to do. Strictly follow instructions relating to reducing pain after your procedure, including movement, drinking adequate fluids, taking medication, using ice packs or elevating the site to reduce swelling.


Fully disclose any medical conditions you might have and medications that you are taking, including supplements. Some individuals seeking cosmetic surgery are considered poor candidates because of specific lifestyle factors that can affect their safety in the operating room and during recovery. People who are overweight or who smoke may be declined.

Plan ahead

Schedule the surgery at a time when you can afford time off from work and when it will be least disruptive to your family. Arrange for a support person to stay with you for at least the first 24 hours. This person can help out with everyday tasks like cooking, shopping and laundry.

Take measures to make your life after surgery as simple as possible. Put items that you use often within easy reach before surgery so you won’t have to reach and bend as often.

Lifestyle factors that may be discussed during consultation:

– Current weight and history of weight fluctuations
– Medications
– Nutrition and vitamin supplements
– Exercise frequency and type (aerobic/non-aerobic)
– Smoking habits and exposure to secondhand smoke
– Alcohol consumption
– Sun exposure
– Sleep patterns
– Stress level and coping mechanisms.

What to expect

– The practitioner presents their credentials on request
– The practitioner takes the time during the consultation to answer all of your questions and address both the benefits and the risks involved
– That if you are undergoing surgery, the surgeon marks the operating site(s) on your body before the procedure
– That any product used in the procedure has been approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
– The practitioner provides follow-up care.