3 Questions to Consider When Preparing for Surgery

Shatterproof Editorial team
Nurse crossing his arms

For the more than 15 million people undergoing surgery each year, the preparation leading up to the procedure can be daunting. Depending on the circumstances, patients may not know what to ask. They may feel overwhelmed by the medical jargon and how long they might be away from work and other daily activities. These concerns can be even more worrisome for those in recovery, as opioids are still often prescribed after surgery, despite the negative side effects and heightened awareness of the opioid epidemic.

For anyone who may be gearing up for a procedure, it’s important to feel as prepared as possible for your upcoming surgery and consequential postsurgical recovery. In partnership with Pacira BioSciences, Inc., we’re sharing our top three questions to consider as you kick off conversations with your doctor.  

1. How Much Pain is Associated with This Procedure?

Pain is extremely personal and will vary depending on what type of surgery you receive. Still, your surgeon should be able to give you a general sense of what to expect. Don’t hesitate to ask about how much and what type of pain is associated with your procedure, how long you might be in pain, and how that pain may impact your ability to perform daily activities. Setting this expectation in advance can help you understand what is considered normal and when to bring up concerns with your doctor later in recovery.

2. How Will My Pain Be Managed?

For those in recovery, it is especially important to have an honest conversation with your doctor surrounding opioid exposure. Aside from the risk of addiction, opioids can leave patients feeling drowsy, nauseous, or constipated, which can make recovery difficult. Be upfront about any concerns that you may have about how post-operative pain will be managed. 

In most cases, surgeons use a multimodal pain management approach, meaning that they’ll use a variety of non-opioid methods such as intravenous (IV) acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like naproxen or ibuprofen, and local anesthetics, such as EXPAREL® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension). EXPAREL is injected directly into the surgical site and formulated to slowly release over the first few days after the procedure when pain is often at its worst. Ask your doctor about what options are available and what their recommendations are for safely and effectively managing pain, while also avoiding opioids.

3. What Can I Do to Help My Postsurgical Recovery?

Knowing how to prepare for surgery can help with the recovery process that follows. In some cases, your doctor may recommend prehab programs. This term refers to therapy-based treatments done prior to procedures to reduce injury, decrease pain, or prepare for surgery. Prehab programs typically start about a month or two before surgery and aim to enhance patient outcomes during recovery by improving physical fitness and function before the procedure. Nutrition, at-home exercises, or physical therapy can all be things to consider with your doctor leading to surgery.

Using these questions as a starting point for conversations with your doctor can help you advocate for yourself while preparing for surgery. But don’t let the conversation stop there. Continued dialogue with your surgeon will make you feel comfortable even through recovery. Please see here for a comprehensive discussion guide for your next appointment.


EXPAREL® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension) is indicated to produce postsurgical local analgesia via infiltration in patients aged 6 years and older and regional analgesia in adults via an interscalene brachial plexus nerve block, sciatic nerve block in the popliteal fossa, and an adductor canal block. Safety and efficacy have not been established in other nerve blocks.

Important Safety Information  

EXPAREL should not be used in obstetrical paracervical block anesthesia.
In studies in adults where EXPAREL was injected into a wound, the most common side effects were nausea, constipation, and vomiting.
In studies in adults where EXPAREL was injected near a nerve, the most common side effects were nausea, fever, headache, and constipation.

In the study where EXPAREL was given to children, the most common side effects were nausea, vomiting, constipation, low blood pressure, low number of red blood cells, muscle twitching, blurred vision, itching, and rapid heartbeat.

EXPAREL can cause a temporary loss of feeling and/or loss of muscle movement. How much and how long the loss of feeling and/or muscle movement depends on where and how much of EXPAREL was injected and may last for up to 5 days. 

EXPAREL is not recommended to be used in patients younger than 6 years old for injection into the wound, for patients younger than 18 years old for injection near a nerve, and/or in pregnant women.

Tell your health care provider if you or your child has liver disease, since this may affect how the active ingredient (bupivacaine) in EXPAREL is eliminated from the body.

EXPAREL should not be injected into the spine, joints, or veins.

The active ingredient in EXPAREL can affect the nervous system and the cardiovascular system; may cause an allergic reaction; may cause damage if injected into the joints; and can cause a rare blood disorder.

Full Prescribing Information is available at www.EXPAREL.com/patient. For more information, please visit www.EXPAREL.com/patient or call 1-855-793-9727. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Woman in a support circle

Support Alcohol Awareness Month

Your contribution will help make a difference in the lives affected by alcohol addiction.