Getting Ready for Surgery

This information contains instructions regarding your surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering’s main hospital. Please review these instructions 2 days before your surgery.

2 Days Before your Surgery

  • Confirm you have someone to take you home
If you are going home the day of surgery you must have someone escort you home after surgery for your safety. Your surgery will be cancelled if you do not have an escort. If you don’t have anyone, call one of the agencies below. They will provide someone to accompany you home, however there is a charge for this service and you will also need to provide transportation.
In New York:
  • Partners in Care 888-735-8913
  • Prime Care 212-944-0244
In New Jersey:
  • Caring People 877-227-4649
We recommend that you have someone to help at home for the first 24 hours after surgery
  • Purchase a bottle of Hibiclens® (chlorhexidine) cleanser if you were instructed to. Hibiclens is a skin cleanser that you can buy without a prescription at any pharmacy. Some surgeries do not require you wash with Hibiclens.
  • Be sure you have the bowel preparation kit prescribed by your doctor, if needed. If you have to do a bowel preparation, purchase plenty of clear liquids to drink while you do it. Review the resource titled Clear Liquid Diet for examples. Some surgeries do not require you use a bowel preparation kit.
  • Review the handout titled Common Medicications Containing Aspirin and Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs given to you by your nurse.
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The Day Before your Surgery

A clerk from the Admitting Office will call you after 2:00 pm the day before your surgery. He or she will tell you what time you should arrive at the hospital for your surgery. If you are scheduled for surgery on a Monday you will be called on the Friday before.

The clerk will tell you where to go on the day of your surgery. This will be either the Surgical Day Hospital or the Presurgical Center. If you do not receive a call by 7:00 pm, please call 212-639-5014.

If you have any changes in your health or you need to cancel your surgery for any reason, please call your surgeon.

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The Evening Before Your Surgery

  • If you were instructed to shower using Hibiclens, follow the instructions on the bottle. Hibiclens is a skin cleanser that kills germs for 6 hours after using it. It will help reduce your risk of infection.
  • If you were instructed to use a bowel preparation kit, follow the instructions given to you.
  • Follow any special instructions your nurse gave you regarding your diet.

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes water, gum or hard candy.

  • Go to bed early.
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The Day of Your Surgery

  • Do not eat or drink anything the morning of your surgery.
  • Follow any special instructions your nurse gave you regarding your diet.
  • Your doctor or nurse practitioner may have instructed you to take certain medications on the morning of your surgery. Take only those medications with a sip of water.
  • If you were instructed to shower using Hibiclens, open the bottle and pour some solution into your hand or a washcloth. Rub gently over your entire body from the neck down and rinse. Do not let the solution get into your eyes, ears, mouth, or genital area. Dry yourself off with a clean towel after your shower.
  • Bring a list of all the medications you are taking, including patches and creams, with you.
  • Remove all jewelry, including body piercings.
  • Do not put on any lotions, creams, deodorants, makeup, powders, or perfumes.
  • Leave valuables, such as credit cards, jewelry, or your checkbook at home.
  • If you usually wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead. Remember to bring a case for them.
  • Before you are taken into the operating room, you will need to remove your hearing aids, dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, and religious articles (such as a rosary).
  • Bring your Health Care Proxy Form with you if you, have completed one. Your health care agent is the person you have designated to speak for you if needed. Please make certain this person knows your wishes regarding health care in case there is an emergency. If you have an advanced directive or living will, bring it with you.
  • Generally, 2 visitors may stay with you as you await your surgery. A nurse will escort your visitors to the recovery room (PACU) when you awake from your procedure.
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Parking at Memorial Sloan Kettering is available in the garage on East 66th Street between First and York Avenues. To reach the garage, enter East 66th Street from York Avenue. The garage is located about ¼ block toward First Avenue, on the right (north) side of the street. A pedestrian tunnel connects the garage to the hospital. For questions about pricing, call 212-639-2338. The line for the parking garage can be long, especially in the middle of the day. You may wish to consider using one of the nearby commercial garages, which are located on East 69th Street between First and Second Avenues and on East 65th Street between First and Second Avenues.
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Helpful Phone Numbers



Call the Admitting office to discuss private room or luxury suite options.

Bobst International Center


MSK welcomes patients from around the world. If you are an international patient, call the International Center for help coordinating your care.



Call with questions about anesthesia (medications used to make you sleepy for your surgery).

Patient Representatives


Call the Patient Representatives office if you have any questions about the Health Care Proxy Form, or if you have any concerns about your care.

Patient Billing


Call Patient Billing with any questions regarding preauthorization with your insurance company. This is also called pre-approval.

Private Duty Nursing


Patients may request private nurses or companions. For more information call the Private Duty Nursing office.

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If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.
Getting Ready for Surgery
©2015 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on November 25, 2015