Day Surgery: Preparing Your Child

Going to the hospital for an operation can be a scary prospect for a child. Here are some tips on how to prepare your child for surgery to ease his anxiety.

Before Surgery  

Preparing Your Child For Surgery 

Your child may feel anxious going to hospital for an operation. To reduce some of this anxiety, your child needs to be told in a sensitive, truthful and clear manner that he is going to hospital and the reason for going. Use simple words and only explain what the child can understand. 

Try to avoid telling him too soon before the date of admission. The time frame depends on the age of your child. 

Younger children, or those under the age of five, should be told two to three days before admission and again on the morning of admission. Children under 10 should be told four to seven days before admission. Older children can cope with a longer time frame.

This gives the child enough time to think about the admission and ask questions. Try and answer his questions openly and honestly. 

Have your child play with a toy doctor set at home or read stories about going to hospital beforehand. Let your child help you pack or prepare for the admission, and have him choose a favourite teddy, toy or book to bring with him. 

What Should My Child Do the Night Before? 

It is best if he gets plenty of rest before surgery. Ensure he bathes and washes his hair so that he will feel better when recovering. Strictly follow fasting advice because serious complications may occur even with small amounts of food or water in his stomach when anaesthesia is administered. For example, if he is allowed a last feed at 3am, wake him up to give the drink, then do not let him consume anything else after that. 

What Should I Bring? 

Essential items: 
Documents listed in the day surgery brochure 
Your child's health booklet 
A list of his current medications (if any) 

Suggested items: 
A favourite toy or book 
Extra underwear or diapers, comfortable clothes 
Pacifier, an empty bottle or sippy cup (if he uses one) 
Milk powder, snacks for AFTER the procedure 
A pillow, blanket or towel for the car  

On the Day of the Surgery  

Can I Accompany My Child into the Operating Theatre? 

One parent is allowed to accompany your child. After he is anaesthetised, you will be escorted to the waiting room in the reception area while the surgery takes place. We advise you not to bring other children along as there is no appropriate place for them to wait. Other children are not allowed in the day surgery reception’s play area. 

When Will I See My Child After Surgery? 

Different children will take different times to recover from anaesthesia. Generally, you will be allowed to see your child in the recovery area about 30-45 minutes after the surgery. 

What Can I Expect When I See My Child? 

He may be sleepy, confused or fretful when he awakes. Sometimes he may vomit, and occasionally, he may complain of pain. The anaesthetists will be able to give him medicine to treat this. He will have an intravenous cannula, or catheter, which will remain in until he is ready to be discharged. 

When Can My Child Be Discharged? 

He can be discharged once he is: 
Alert enough to walk 
Able to consume fluids 
Is able to pass urine (for herniotomy and circumcision operations) 

The doctor will review your child before he is discharged. 

How Long Will We Spend in the Day Surgery Centre? 

Be prepared to spend around five to six hours altogether at the Day Surgery Centre. The whole "day surgery procedure" involves at least an hour for the anaesthetic cream (EMLA) on the hand to work before surgery, and four to five hours after surgery for the child to recover fully. At peak periods, such as school holidays, it may take longer as we try to accommodate more children.  

After Surgery

What Activities Will My Child Be Allowed to Do After Surgery? 

You will be given specific instructions depending on the type of surgery. Generally, it is advisable to avoid playground activities, and if surgery involves the groin, straddling toys or cycling. Supervised walking and climbing stairs are generally allowed. Showering is usually allowed except in some operations, for which you will be given specific instructions. 

What Dietary Restrictions Must We Follow After Surgery? 

Unless otherwise specified, for most day surgery operations, your child can have his normal diet when he goes home. 

When Can My Child Go Back to School? 

You will be given a medical certificate telling you when he can go back to school. 

What Should I Do If There Are Any Problems? 

You will be given an appointment to see your doctor at the outpatient clinic. In the meantime, if you have concerns regarding wound care, you may contact: 

During office hours 
Tel: +65 6394 1689 (Day Surgery Recovery) 
Tel: +65 6394 2087 (Specialist Outpatient Clinic K) 

After office hours 
Seek treatment at Children's Emergency.  

Read more in the brochure (PDF format).    

Visit Parent Hub, for more useful tips and guides to give your child a healthy start.

Back to Top