Your Surgery Guide

As you prepare for your heart surgery at Cedars-Sinai, it's important to know what to expect immediately before, during and after your surgery. The guide below will walk you through all of the important steps and processes you need to know. 

Days Before Your Surgery

Confirm Your Surgery Time

Your surgeon's office will call you a few days before your surgery to make sure that you have the right surgery time. If you have any questions, call your surgery scheduler. Do not call your surgeon or physician assistant.  

One Day Before Your Surgery

Preparing adequately the day before your surgery can help reduce anxiety. There are a number of steps to follow to ensure a smooth start for the day of your surgery.

Avoid Food and Drink

Do not eat any food or drink any liquids after midnight. This includes gum, mints and candy. The anesthesia that will be used to put you to sleep during the operation is safest when given on an empty stomach, so it's important to understand that your surgery will be canceled if you eat or drink anything after midnight.

Do not drink alcohol the day or night before your surgery.

On the morning of your surgery, when you brush your teeth, do not swallow any water.

Take Your Medication

Follow your doctor's instructions for taking your medications. If your doctor tells you to take medication the morning of your surgery, you can swallow it with a small sip of water.

Shower With CHG

You will need to shower before your surgery with a special soap called chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG). This soap lowers the number of germs on your skin. During your pre-operative appointment, you will be given the soap in your doctor's office, with detailed instructions on use. You can also buy the soap at a drugstore. You will need to shower with CHG 1 day before and on the morning of your surgery.

Follow these instructions when showering with CHG:

  1. Wash your hair with your normal shampoo and rinse out all shampoo.
  2. Wet your whole body.
  3. Turn off the shower water.
  4. Put the CHG soap on a clean, wet washcloth.
  5. Use the washcloth to clean your body from your neck down to your feet.
  6. Do not put the soap on your face or head. Keep the soap away from your eyes, ears and mouth.
  7. Gently wash your body for 5 minutes, including your chest where you will have surgery.
  8. Be sure to wash in all skin folds (elbows, under your arms and under your breasts).
  9. Do not wash with your regular soap after using the CHG.
  10. Turn the shower water back on and rinse your body until all the CHG soap is gone.
  11. Pat dry with a clean towel.
  12. Do NOT use any powders, makeup, deodorants, perfumes, oils or lotions after showering.
Leave Your Valuables at Home

Do not wear jewelry. Leave all your valuables at home.

Arriving at the Hospital

On the day of your surgery, there are a couple of important items to keep in mind. 


We offer discounted parking on the first and last day of your stay with us. Once we validate your parking ticket, your cost will be $5. Take your parking ticket to the information desk on the street level of the South Tower for validation.

Checking in for Surgery

If you are scheduled as the first case of the day, please check in at 5:30 a.m. If you are scheduled as a "to follow" case, your surgery scheduler will tell you what time to come to the hospital. Please be at the hospital on time and bring the following:

  • Photo identification
  • Insurance cards

After you've been checked in, a staff person will meet you in the lobby and take you to a waiting area. From there, you will be brought to the pre-operative holding area, where you will wait until your surgery. Your family may join you for a short time. The anesthesiologist will meet with you, do a final checklist and start your IV. After this, your family will be asked to wait in the 6th floor waiting area where the operating room (OR) staff will give them periodic updates. When the surgery is over, your surgeon will talk directly to your family members and provide them with an update. 

After Your Surgery

Your postoperative recovery process will entail recovery and support from our healthcare team. You should plan to be in the hospital for about 1 week. Many patients will go home sooner, while some may need to stay longer.

Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit (CSICU)

All cardiac surgery patients will be taken to the CSICU on the 6th floor of Saperstein. After your surgery, you will be asleep for several hours. Once you wake up from anesthesia and the breathing tube is removed, your recovery will begin. We will ask you to start your breathing exercises with an incentive spirometer. Usually, you will begin working with the physical therapy team on the day after surgery. Walking and using your incentive spirometer are two of the most important things you can do for your recovery.

Your family will be allowed to visit, but only 2 people at a time. Learn more about visiting policies and hours.


At some point in your recovery, you’ll be moved to the telemetry unit on 6 Northeast. Here, you will have an activity schedule which will include walking outside of your room at least 3 times a day assisted by a physical therapist, nurse or other staff member. 

Recovery & Support

After you are discharged, our experienced team will continue to support you through your recovery. Learn more about what to expect.

Get Help or Make an Appointment

Call or send a message to the Heart team. You can also have us call you back at your convenience.

7 days a week, 6 am - 9 pm PT