Upcoming Surgery? Don't Forget To Pack These Items   

Upcoming Surgery? Don't Forget To Pack These Items

woman packing her things into a bag at home before a surgical stay; what to pack before surgery
Clinical Contributors to this story:
Ryan Moore, M.D.

In addition to any nerves you may have before a surgical procedure, knowing what to pack in your overnight bag can be challenging. 

“We recommend making a list for yourself and packing your bag a day or two in advance to eliminate any unnecessary stress,” shares colon and rectal surgeon, Ryan Moore, M.D. “Patients have the best outcomes when they truly understand their procedure and have a positive attitude towards recovery – that’s where I want my patients to focus their energy.”

Dr. Moore shares a cheat sheet, identifying the most important items to pack before a surgical stay. 

The Must Haves

You must bring a government-issued ID card with a photo and proof of health insurance.  Without them, you risk delaying your surgery.  If you are uncertain what proof of identification to bring with you, contact the hospital.

It is also very important that you bring all of your medications with you, as well as a written list of the doses and dosing schedule for each medication.

Even if your hospital stay won’t be very long, there are many personal care items, clothing and communications devices you should pack.

Personal Care:

  • Hair brush or comb
  • Sanitary napkins if needed
  • A toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • Eyeglasses (generally they are easier to manage than contact lenses)


Often patients want to change out of the hospital gown if they are able. If your procedure allows for this, pack the following items to stay comfortable. 

  • Loose-fitting pajamas
  • A light robe
  • Plenty of socks and underwear
  • Slippers with rubber soles (for better traction)
  • A loose-fitting outfit to wear when you leave the hospital 

Sleep Aids:

  • An eye mask for sleeping
  • A CPAP mask, if needed
  • Ear plugs


  • Cell phone and charger
  • Headphones
  • A pen and notepad
  • Reading materials

Depending upon your condition and tastes, you may want to bring non-perishable drinks and snacks with you.

Don’t Bring These Items

Since the hospital is not responsible for your personal items, you should not bring anything of high value or sentiment, including:

  • Jewelry
  • Makeup
  • Large amounts of cash
  • Expensive electronics like laptops, gaming or music devices

“Anything you don’t have that’s an essential item, the hospital will likely be able to provide it, or find someone who can purchase it for you. Pack a few key items, and spend your time and energy focusing on your recovery,” concludes Dr. Moore.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.



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