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Must-Haves for Surgery

Preparing well for surgery is one of the best things you can do for peace-of-mind. There are several items I would strongly recommend you consider purchasing. Please note that all my medication, including chlorhexidine mouthwash and pain relief, was provided to me by the hospital pharmacy. Please check in advance on what you will be given.

Nipple cream, I love you.
- Pure lanolin. This is sometimes marketed as nipple cream, and can be found in the baby section of chemists. It's perfect intensive treatment for your lips. They are going to swell like crazy, and you're going to be breathing through your mouth, not to mention they will have been bashed around and stretched during surgery. My lips did not peel, flake, or chap once. This stuff is a lifesaver.

- Sippy cups. I would recommend two, one for water and the other for juice/thin smoothies, or to have as a clean spare. They are great for several things. First, get one with measurements down the side to help track your fluid intake. I was advised at least two liters a day. Second, they restrict the flow of fluid, which is great when your swallowing is compromised for the first few days, and still good when you have numb lips and tend to dribble. And lastly, ask you shouldn't be using a straw (too much pressure and is bad for the stitches - I physically couldn't anyway), it's a great way to be able to drink without a hard rim hitting your top lip where you'll be very sensitive if you've had upper jaw surgery.

My sippy cup of choice.

- Gel ice packs. Especially the ones that can be heated too, if you don't own a heat pack. These are way better than ice as they last longer, don't make you sopping wet (as shown in above picture), and are more comfortable. They do take a couple of hours to freeze, so I would recommend three of the large ones (that are basically three gel segments attached lengthways). After a week you'll probably want heat to help with the ache, and it's a bonus if you get the ones that you can heat too. The hospital should provide you with these, or you might have a constant cooling system mask (these seem common in America), but I would bring one or two just in case. You'll want one on you almost constantly for the first few days.

- Post-surgical bras. This sounds weird I know, but I lived in mine for the first two weeks. I got two from Target for $20 each. They are just wireless bras that do up at the front. Super comfy, so you can sleep in them. They were great for my hospital stay when I didn't want to be uncomfortable, nor did I want to be floppin' around when being visited by countless nurses and your doctor. It's almost as bad as letting your bum hang out of the hospital gown. They are also great because they are super easy to do up with no danger of hitting your face in the process. You don't realise how much you bump your face on an everyday basis until you do it to your fractured face.

- Comfy PJs, and more than you would expect. You're going to be getting sweaty and frustrated, and you're going to drool all the time when in the beginning. Which leads me to...

- Tea towels to use as bibs. This is not a dignified recovery. At all.

- Spare pillow cases, for the drooling.

- A recliner chair, or enough comfortable pillows to arrange in an elevated sleeping position. While as long as your head is above your heart your swelling is being helped, the higher the better, especially in the first week. I found one under the knees helped me from sliding down. And you're going to have to sleep on your back. Sorry.

- A baby toothbrush. It will probably be awhile until you can fit a normal sized one in your mouth.

- Something to vitamize or blend food with. My mum bought a fancy blender for the occasion, but what we've used most so far is a mini food processor attachment from our bar mix. It's this set to the left. You can use it for most things, excepting maybe smoothies made with frozen fruit.

- Big syringes. I was given three, but just in case you might at least want to have one ready. Some people use them to eat but I found that unnecessary. What you need them for is your oral hygiene routine. You'll have to rinse your mouth and sutured areas very well after eating or drinking. You'll probably be advised to use warm salty water, and be given a bottle of specialised mouthwash.

- Anica cream. This one is optional. I found it excellent for gentle massage to reduce swelling and bruising. Some people swear by the tablets, but do not take these without consulting your surgeon and anaesthetist. They can interfere with your medications, or your blood clotting abilities. Although most are homoeopathic remedies (and not to open a can of worms) that crap doesn't work. I also took Bromelain supplements from about week three post-op which I found really helped my swelling go down. Bromelain is found in fruits such as pineapple, and is a pretty powerful anti-inflammatory.

- All your prescription medication with enough to last you for at least the next week. You're not going to want to be going out to get it, and you'll need to take it to the hospital with you.

- A primary carer. You're going to want someone with you for at least the first week.

- Heaps of movies, TV shows, books, or games. You'll be doing a lot of sleeping, drooling, and binge-watching.

- Tissues. At least half an acre of trees worth.

- I would recommend a teeth clean at the dentist 2-4 weeks before the surgery. It may be awhile before you can brush adequately.

- Ear plugs. I didn't get these because my ear canals are retardedly small, but I would've killed for some in the hospital. One night I woke up with bits of tissue in my ear, I was so fed up with all the noise and patient call button rings.

- Something to watch yourself eat with. I just used my front facing camera on my phone, but you may prefer a small mirror. Not kidding, I relied on it for a week.

- A notepad and pen for the hospital. The first night in ICU I was too tired to talk or couldn't be understood.You might also be banded or wired shut, depending on your surgeon and specific surgery/surgical outcome.

- Meal ideas. You can check our recipes that got my approval here.

- Soluble fibre.  Fibre intake can be more difficult on liquids, and you're probably already going to be constipated because the the anaesthetic and pain relief. I didn't poop for 6 days post-op!

- Patience.

This video below is something I did every day once home from hospital (starting at about day 5 post op). It's very gentle lymphatic drainage massage for the face, but you don't actually have to touch much of the face at all, so it's fine even when you're still a little tender. You hardly use any pressure at all. Give it a go if you feel comfortable, or speak to your doctor first.

Other optional items I've heard from other people's experiences that did not apply to me:

- A humidifier. Many people complain of severe congestion post-op. I was lucky enough to not encounter this.

- Q-tips to gently clean your nose when the bleeding stops. Mine was weeping a little 2 weeks post op, but I just used a tissue. 


  1. Very helpful information! Thank you! My surgery is in 3 days ......

  2. Very helpful information! Thank you! My surgery is in 3 days.......

  3. Where did you get the sippy cup? My surgery is next month.
    Thanks for all the information. Very helpful!

    1. Hello!
      I got the cup from a baby supplies store, pretty sure it was Baby Bunting. Good luck for your surgery!


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