Dressing For Surgery

Surgery - October 24, 2016

We often carefully plan the clothes we wear to parties or special events. We think ahead and consider our best options for the occasion. However we often don't take the same thoughtful approach to how we dress on the day we are having surgery. Thinking ahead and planning what you wear can make a difference in your comfort and recovery.

Recently I took a client* to the hospital for her surgery. She is a glamorous woman who dresses in very fashionable clothing even when she is being casual. On the day of her surgery she chose to wear tight jeans and boots with very high heels. This was fine when she went to the hospital. However two days later when she was being discharged she was still feeling the effects of anesthesia and her balance was not great. Wearing those high heeled boots was impossible for her. Because she had no other shoes, she walked out of the hospital wearing socks. This worked out fine because she had a very short distance to walk but if it had been raining that day it might have been a real problem.

When you are choosing your clothes for the day of your surgery and for your recovery period try to imagine that your surgery has already happened. Think about how your physical condition will be changed and how that might impact your ability to wear clothing. If you take a moment to imagine what you will look like post surgery you can better choose the right clothing. For example if you have surgery on your arm you could imagine how difficult it may be pull a shirt on over your head. You could try to put a shirt on with your arm completely immobile. After trying this you would probably choose to wear a button up shirt instead of a t-shirt or sweatshirt.

Depending on the length of your recovery and the type of surgery it may be a worthwhile investment to get a few new pieces of clothing. You may want pants or shirts that are a size or two bigger than you normally wear or in looser fitting styles or you may want to cut part of some clothes to be able to wear them more easily. Also remember to ask your surgeon's office for advice on the best clothing to wear on the day of your surgery. They may have unique suggestions based on your particular surgical case.

Here are some ideas for clothing options depending on the type of surgery.

  • Head, neck and upper body – button up shirt
  • Arm, elbow - modified shirt with one sleeve cut off, larger than usual sized shirt, sleeveless shirt
  • Leg, knee, ankle – sweat pants, very loose fitting pajama type pants, shorts, a sarong or scarf that can be tied around your waist
  • Abdominal – loose fitting pants with a draw string waist, a one piece pajama with a zipper on the front
  • All surgeries – comfortable, easy to slide on shoes

There are so many things to think about as you are preparing for surgery. Your outfit may not be high on your list of concerns but planning ahead could help make your ride home and recovery period more comfortable and easy.

* Story shared with permission