Undergoing any form of surgery can feel overwhelming, but it can be even more frightening when it involves the brain. That’s why Joseph Watson, MD, founded Cerebrum MD in Tyson’s Corner, Vienna, Virginia. At his practice, you can expect truly personalized care while you navigate your treatment options.
Dr. Watson offers these insights into what you can expect when having brain surgery and how you can prepare for your procedure and recovery.
Planning for brain surgery
The first step when planning for brain surgery is to understand the recovery process.
There are several types of brain surgeries, ranging from minimally invasive techniques that use few — if any — small incisions, to those with large incisions through the scalp and skull. While brain surgery techniques can differ, they all have two things in common: It takes time to recover, and you’ll need extra rest.
Dr. Watson can provide more personalized recovery estimates based on your age, overall health, and the following:
- Type of brain surgery you need
- Location of the tumor, aneurysm, or abnormal tissue
- Brain areas impacted by your surgery
At a minimum, you can expect to stay in the hospital after having brain surgery for at least 2-5 days. During this time, doctors and nurses will provide comprehensive care 24 hours a day to monitor your response to the surgery.
Rehabilitative care after surgery
Recovering from brain surgery can be a complicated process that requires additional support. For example, having surgery to remove brain tumors can affect your thoughts, behaviors, and motor functions. It’s also common to feel worse before feeling better immediately after surgery.
To guide you through the recovery process, you’ll likely work with a therapy team that includes:
- Physical therapists to help improve strength and balance and assess your mobility
- Occupational therapists to evaluate your ability to think and perform daily activities
- Speech-language pathologists to assist with language, speech, thinking, or swallowing issues
You can expect your therapy team to be involved before you even leave the hospital.
Medical preparations for brain surgery
Prior to your surgery, you’ll likely get digital imaging tests to help Dr. Watson plan your procedure, and you’ll likely undergo health tests to confirm you’re fit to undergo surgery safely.
In the weeks leading up to your procedure, Dr. Watson will work closely with you to modify any medication or supplement dosages that could cause complications during your surgery. The last step to prepare usually involves fasting for 24 hours and washing your hair with a special soap.
Personal preparations for brain surgery
Getting your body ready for brain surgery is only a small part of the planning process. Dr. Watson also recommends making certain arrangements to help make your recovery go as smoothly as possible. These steps might include:
- Setting up travel arrangements to and from surgery and for post-surgery appointments
- Packing belongings for your hospital stay, such as medications, glasses, and clothing
- Preparing and freezing healthy meals for when you go home
- Getting ahead of household chores
- Making child or eldercare arrangements
- Arranging time off work and return-to-work strategies with your employer
- Adjusting your bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen, so they are easy to use while healing
- Collecting movies, magazines, or books for entertainment while you recover
Dr. Watson also recommends discussing your health care directives with family members in advance. As part of this planning, you should complete a living will, health care proxy, and consider nominating a power of attorney.
While your chances of experiencing serious complications are typically low with brain surgery, all procedures come with some risk. Taking these steps in advance can ensure you always have an advocate who can make the right decisions on your behalf.
For more tips on preparing for brain surgery, book an appointment over the phone with Cerebrum MD today.