Children & Surgery

Will it hurt? Can my mom and dad be with me? When will I wake up?

With good information, you can answer many of your child’s questions. What to tell a child about a surgery depends on age, emotional maturity, and coping abilities.

How do I talk to my child about surgery?

  • Be honest. If your child asks a question to which you can’t respond, say that you don’t know but will try to find the answer.
  • Use familiar words that your child understands and that are non-threatening. For example, use "sore" instead of "pain." When describing an anesthesiologist, you might say “sleep doctor.” Say “small opening” instead of “cut.”
  • Talk about how the surgery will help your child.
  • Let your child know that you will be at the hospital during the surgery and that you will take him or her home afterwards.

If my child asks…

  • Will it hurt? You might say, “It won’t hurt during the operation because the sleeping medicine protects you. But afterwards the place where you had your operation may feel sore. The doctor or nurse can give you medicine to help the soreness go away.”
  • Who will do the operation? You might say, “Doctors and nurses will do the operation. They will take good care of you and keep you safe the whole time. You will meet your nurse and sleep doctor before the operation.”
  • Why can’t I eat or drink before my operation? You might say, “The sleeping medicine works best when there is no food in your tummy. After the operation you can eat when you feel hungry.”

Ways to help your child cope:

  • Bring a favorite toy, book, security blanket, or other treasured item to the hospital. Older children may want to bring books or handheld games. For younger children, be prepared with their bottle or sippy cup after the surgery.
  • Let your child make choices before and after surgery, when appropriate. For example, ask your child to pick which clothes to pack for the hospital or which favorite item or toy to bring.
  • Encourage your child to draw pictures as a way to express his or her thoughts and feelings about the surgery.

Other important reminders:

  • Be sure to adhere to the dietary restrictions and instructions given to you by the nurse or doctor.
  • A parent or legal guardian must be available to sign for patients under the age of 18.
  • Please limit visitors to one or both parents for children under 18.
  • Please do not bring other small children if possible.
  • Bring your driver’s license or picture ID, insurance cards, co-pays and deductibles, if needed. You will be required to make a payment on the day of your surgery if your insurance does not cover your surgery in full.

Please call (801) 465-7191 if you have any questions.

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