The Day of Your Surgery

Arriving at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center

Depending on the procedure you're having, you'll need to enter Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center either through the surgical services entrance or through the Sentara Heart & Vascular Center entrance. You should verify which entrance to use during your pre-operative interview.

If your surgery is scheduled in Surgical Services, you can park outside of the Surgical Services entrance. You may also drive up to the main entrance where our valets will be happy to park your car for your convenience. From there, you’ll proceed to Surgical Services and check in at the registration area.

If arriving through the Sentara Heart & Vascular Center, use the hospital entrance at River Rock Way and follow signs to the appropriate parking lot. You'll need to check in at the registration desk.

Day of Surgery

Please follow these instructions to help our team provide all patients with quality and efficient medical care in a safe, comfortable, and convenient environment.

  • No solid food or beverages after midnight the day of surgery unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon.
  • No gum, candy or mints of any kind are permitted after midnight the day of surgery.
  • Do not drink alcohol 24 hours prior to your surgery. Avoid smoking and tobacco after midnight.
  • If you take high blood pressure, seizure, breathing, heart condition or thyroid medication, it’s recommended that you take your regular dose with as little water as possible, unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon.
  • Arrive at the time instructed by the pre-op nurse or your surgeon, which is usually 2 hours before the scheduled operation. Be prompt to allow necessary time for your admission process.
  • Bring any appropriate insurance cards, co-pays and forms. Please bring any laboratory results, medical records or forms given to you by the physician. In addition, if you were given a pre-operative packet, please bring that with you as well.
  • All jewelry (rings, earrings, body piercings) must be removed prior to going into the operating room. Please do not bring any valuables (jewelry, excessive amounts of cash or credit cards). You should be prepared to leave these items with whomever accompanies you to the surgery center.
  • If you wear glasses, contact lenses or dentures, they must be removed prior to your surgery. Please bring a case to safely store these items.
  • Wear comfortable, casual clothing on the day of your surgery. Clothing should allow you to easily dress or undress.
  • Please, no make up (cosmetics), aerosol sprays, perfumes, or skin creams. Deodorant is acceptable.
  • If you are being admitted to the hospital following surgery, bring a small bag containing pajamas, a robe, slippers and toiletries.
  • If you are using any medical devices at home, please bring them with you the day of surgery, this includes, but is not limited to, CPAP, crutches, wheel chairs, splints and/or slings.


Staff will greet you, help you check in and give you an identification bracelet.

  • You will sign a surgery consent form (and other forms) if you have not done so already.
  • You will need to remove any makeup, nail polish and lipstick. Surgical staff need to see your natural coloring to assess and monitor any changes.


  • A nurse will take you to the surgical preparation area, where your blood pressure and temperature are taken.
  • The nurse will review your medical history and have you change into a hospital gown.
  • If necessary, a small catheter (an IV) will be inserted into one of your veins to maintain fluid balance during the procedure and to administer medications.
  • If necessary, staff will wash the incision area and shave body hair needing removal.

Meeting Your Anesthesiologist

Be sure to tell your anesthesiologist (or nurse anesthetist) about any past problems you have experienced with any type of anesthetic.

After reviewing your test results and speaking with your surgeon, your anesthesiologist will speak with you before surgery and ask important questions. The anesthesiologist will explain the anesthesia type or local anesthetic you will be receiving. He or she will also explain how it is administered and the risks.

Your anesthesiologist is a credentialed medical staff member and is committed to providing patients with quality, comfort and exceptional surgical services.


You will be taken to the pre-surgical area for final preparations. Please let your pre-op nurse know of any special needs.

Your family will be directed to the waiting area, and a spokesperson will be appointed to relay information. Your spokesperson should keep the waiting area staff informed of his or her location when leaving the waiting area.

Operating and Recovery Room

The operating room (OR) is staffed with professionals, led by your surgeon, trained to provide a safe and sterile environment. The OR can be cold and blankets are available. Expect bright lights overhead.

Once you are stable and comfortable, you will be transferred to post-op or to an inpatient bed. While you are in recovery, your physician will update your family or companion regarding your status.