Day surgery

Day surgery is done in one day. You don’t need to stay in hospital overnight.

What to bring

  • A small bag to put your clothes in during your procedure
  • Something warm to wear while you’re waiting for admission
  • A list of your medications, x-rays and scans
  • Consent forms completed by you and your doctor
  • Medicare card, pension or concession card, if you have one
  • Private hospital insurance card, if you have one
  • Debit or credit card
  • Physical aids such as glasses, hearing aids (with cases), walking stick, mobility aids
  • Something to read

We recommend you don't bring any money or valuables with you to hospital. We're not responsible for any lost or damaged items that belong to you, your family or any visitors.

Preparing for day surgery

You usually need to arrive several hours before your surgery is scheduled.

We'll help you complete any admission paperwork, including whether you've selected to be treated as a public or private patient.

Read more about health costs, insurance and financial support.

After settling into the day surgery section of the hospital, you’ll be checked by a nurse. Your anaesthetist may also visit you.

They may examine you, review your health history questionnaire and ask you more questions, such as:

  • how have you responded to previous anaesthesia and operations?
  • has anyone in your family had any anaesthetic problems?
  • what medicines or tablets are you taking?
  • do you have any allergies or sensitivities?
  • what are your past and present medical problems?
  • what are your smoking and drinking habits?
  • have you had dental work?
  • do you ever have indigestion or reflux?

There are several things that may happen before you go into surgery.

  • You may need further tests including a physical examination — your anaesthetist may also order more tests.
  • Your anaesthetist will discuss anaesthesia with you — you may be given a sedative an hour or so before your operation to help you feel drowsy and relaxed.
  • You may be asked to remove any false teeth and jewellery.

You should also have been told how long to fast for at an earlier appointment. You should usually be without food for at least 6 hours.

Anaesthesia for day surgery

Before your operation, you’ll be taken to the operating room to have the anaesthetic. The type of anaesthetic depends on the type of surgery and your health.

It may include:

  • general anaesthesia – this is usually done with an injection into a vein in the back of your hand to make you unconscious
  • regional anaesthesia – is more complex, ask your doctor for more information
  • local anaesthesia – this is generally reserved for small and simple procedures where only the immediate area surrounding the injection is numbed.

Immediately after your surgery

After your operation you’ll be taken to a recovery room. You might not remember much of this because of the drugs you've been given.

If you were given a local anaesthetic for a small procedure, you’ll be discharged shortly after your surgery. You may stay in the day surgery for one or two hours after leaving the recovery room.

You’ll need to have a friend or relative drive you home.

Side effects and complications of anaesthesia

Some of the side effects and possible complications of anaesthesia include:

  • drowsiness
  • sore throat
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • short term memory loss
  • bleeding at the injection site
  • infection at the injection site
  • low blood pressure
  • headache
  • temporary nerve damage
  • kidney failure
  • liver failure
  • allergic reaction to the anaesthetic
  • seizure
  • muscle aches
  • dental injury.

You can discuss these with your GP or specialist.

Taking care of yourself at home

If you’ve been given sedatives, pain relievers or general anaesthesia, you may feel drowsy after your procedure.

This is because a small amount of the anaesthetic may remain in your body. This can slow your reaction time and affect your judgement for the next 24 hours.

During this time, you shouldn’t drive a car, operate dangerous machinery, drink alcohol or sign any important documents. You also shouldn't care for young children without other adult help.

Last updated:November 2021