Preparing Your Teen for Surgery

If your teen is having surgery, you'll be better able to prepare her if you know what she's worried about and how you can help.

What is your child concerned about?

  • She's worried about how the surgery might change her looks
  • She fears that surgery may affect her daily activities with friends
  • Because she's striving to grow more independent, she's worried that surgery may make her feel more dependent

How can you help prepare your teenager?

  • Involve her. Adolescents like to be active participants in deciding what happens to them, including the kind of care they receive. Make your teen a partner in her healthcare decisions, and give her as much control as possible. Discuss her fears completely and honestly.
  • Be truthful. Your child may become angry if she thinks people are keeping secrets from her. She needs to understand what's wrong with her body. How you give her that information as important as what information you give her.
  • Encourage questions. Teens are often reluctant to ask questions, which may lead you to believe that they understand more than they actually do. Encourage your child to ask the doctors and nurses questions about her condition.
  • Encourage research. Have your teen start learning and preparing as soon as the decision to have surgery is made. Books and the Internet are good places to start.
  • Involve friends. Encourage your child's friends to visit the hospital, or to keep in touch with your child via telephone, text, email and cards.
  • Give her an outlet. You might want to try giving your teen a special notebook or journal; she may find it helpful to write down her thoughts and feelings.
  • Give her privacy, which is essential for teens. Remember that adolescents are as protective of their thoughts and feelings as they are about their bodies, and respect your child's privacy at all times.
  • Be patient. Realize that your teen may go through frequent mood swings throughout the process. She may withdraw and not want to talk or answer questions. She may need to be alone, or, conversely, may need more attention than usual. Be as understanding as possible, and remember that this, too, shall pass.

Next Steps