Skip to main content

How to Face Your Surgery Fears to Get the Care You Need

by Scott Croll, MD

Share

No one likes to hear “you need surgery,” but sometimes medicine and lifestyle changes just aren’t enough to fix the problem. It is only natural to be a little anxious when you find out you need to have surgery. Learn how to face and overcome your fear of surgery quickly to ensure you get the care you need.

Overcoming Your Fears of Surgery

The first step to overcoming your fear is to trust your provider and trust yourself. Most fear is rooted in the unknown or loss of control. You may fear being put under anesthesia because you won’t remember that time, or you may fear complications during surgery. It is important that you trust the training and expertise of your doctor. This will help calm your nerves and build confidence. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with your doctor. 

By preparing for your surgery, you can help begin to overcome your fears. Follow these tips to help you successfully prepare for surgery day:

1. Talk to your doctor about your worries prior to your procedure day. Your doctor can explain what to expect before, during, and after your surgery.

2. Get and stay healthy for surgery. In the weeks before, make sure you are eating healthy foods, getting as much exercise as your doctor recommends, and getting enough sleep. Most importantly, if you smoke—QUIT. Smoking impairs and slows recovery, including bone growth, and increases complications such as infection and lung issues.

3. Know what to expect and follow instructions. Providers offer detailed patient guides to walk you step by step through the entire process—from pre-admission testing to discharge. 

4. Keep yourself distracted on surgery day. The day of surgery you will spend some time waiting, so prepare to occupy as much of that time as possible. Bring reading material or music to the hospital. Several studies show listening to music before surgery can relieve anxiety.

5. Talk to the hospital staff. By sharing your concerns with the hospital team on the day of surgery, they will know how you are feeling and will do whatever they can to address your fears and help you cope with any anxiety or stress you are feeling.

6. Have a support group of family and friends to talk through your fears. It may also help to designate a partner or a coach that can help you stick to your recovery plan. 

7. Create something to look forward to. Having a goal or reward keeps us motivated. You may want to create a list of goodies loved ones can bring you during recovery like a favorite book, flowers, cards, or snacks (if you aren’t on a restricted diet). This will keep your spirits high and give you something to look forward to after surgery.

Surgery Can Improve Your Quality of Life

Remember, anxiety is temporary. The surgery you have scheduled is to help you feel better. View your surgery as unlocking a positive future with a better quality of life.

As surgeons, we want to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible and back to doing the things you love to do. Whenever appropriate, we offer treatment options that are less invasive. For certain conditions, we offer both minimally invasive surgery and advanced robotic surgery, which allows surgeons to perform complex procedures through very small incisions. 

When it comes to the surgery, your surgeon is an advocate for you and your health. They will help you understand your condition and guide you to making informed decisions in line with your goals and values. 

Dr. Scott Croll earned his medical degree from Hahnemann University Hospital – Drexel University, Pa., and completed his residency at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Pa. He offers a wide variety of surgical procedures, including appendectomy, colonoscopy, gall bladder removal, and hernia repair. UPMC Susquehanna offers general surgery services in Wellsboro, Sunbury, Coudersport, Lock Haven, and Williamsport.