Perfume, cologne and surgery prep

I’m going in a couple of days to have a little outpatient surgery. My doctor’s nurse went over all the basic pre-op rules with me, like no nail polish, nothing to eat or drink after midnight, etc. Then she gave me a packet of information that has all the rules printed on the outside. One of the rules is that I can’t wear perfume or cologne that morning; that seems a little strange. Even stranger, I’m supposed to ask whoever is driving me to the hospital not to wear any perfume or cologne either. Why?

I don’t have a problem with skipping the perfume, I’m just curious.

Maybe some of the stuff they are going to give you makes you sensitive to smells, and they don’t want you puking and gagging? :confused: Just a WAG, but maybe not so far off.

WAG: the scent gets into the equipment (anesthesia mask, etc.) that touches you, and they don’t want it there?

Or maybe it’s to avoid problems for medical personnel who might be sensitive to fragrances. I know I’d rather not have my anesthesiologist, surgeon, or OR nurse coughing and wheezing and wiping runny eyes during my operation, thankyouverymuch.

That wouldn’t cover why they don’t want the person driving the OP to wear scent either though. I’d say that they don’t want to risk you becoming nauseated by the scent, I guess the anesthetic can do odd things to your system. I seem to recall that they asked me not to wear scented things when I had my uterus out too, I think I asked and that is along the lines of what they told me too. I’m not certain though, and it got largely forgotten as I recovered.

Also, odour is used diagnostically in some surgical situations, perfume might mask the natural odour of whatever is being examined and make diagnosis more difficult.

Zabali: *That wouldn’t cover why they don’t want the person driving the OP to wear scent either though. I’d say that they don’t want to risk you becoming nauseated by the scent, I guess the anesthetic can do odd things to your system. *

Okay, but the person driving the patient to the hospital isn’t going to be there when the patient gets anesthetized, right? So again, why would the driver have to abstain from fragrances?

Kimstu I dunno, that’s why the OP is curious. :wink:


Ah, I see what you were saying Kimstu. My guess would be they’re going to send the person home pretty soon, and the effects of the medicines given will still be felt, so they don’t want to have “pukey car syndrome” occur maybe?

Oops; I missed that bit; yes, I’d say that by ‘person driving you to the hospital’, they probably actually mean the person taking you home afterwards, or rather, they assume it’s going to be the same person.
The after-effects of a general anaesthetic can last for several days; nausea and sensitivity to strong odours being included in the set.

All of these guesses have a certain amount of logic, although the person driving me to the hospital is likely not going to be the person driving me home.

What makes the whole thing more curious, is that they didn’t say anything about scented body wash, deodorant, etc. In fact, the folder they sent home with me specifically says I can engage in my usual morning hygiene. The thing is, I’ve had outpatient surgery a couple of times before, and don’t recall this ever having been mentioned.

Call and ask them about it then? Mention your concern with scented body wash, (Is the body wash like a mild cologne?) and ask if it’s that they don’t want you exposed to strong scents after surgery? Better to call and ask someone than not, and the hospital here had someone working specifically for that purpose, to clarify things for people getting surgery.

he strong odours theory makes sense.
Also, perhaps they don’t want you to use any alcohol based perfumes, as it may be a fire hazard with electrocautery and anaesthetic gases, although that’s more of a WAG.

Yes, I could ask them. I think the hospital will probably call me tomorrow to get me pre-registered (so I don’t have to waste time at the registration desk Wednesday morning), and I could ask then. I kinda thought there might be a really simple answer to the question that everyone else knew, and as soon as someone said it, would make me go :smack: . Maybe it’s as mystical to everyone else as it is to me, though.

What’s with the “no nail polish” bit? Cap refill?

They want to see the color of your nail beds. I guess they can pick up some information that way. You could probably get away with taking it off of one or two nails, but that would look silly, so they just say to take it off all of 'em.

That’s what I was thinking – nailbed colour can show levels of oxygenation and such, which I guess would be related to the anesthesia in surgery. I know they need to see it if they’re putting on a cast so they can check cap refill.

A lot of doctors’ offices (mine included) request that patients not wear scents, at least, and I think it’s because it’s fairly common for people to be highly sensitive to them - the person sitting next to you in the waiting room could have an asthma attack or something. Some workplaces are even banning perfume and cologne. I would guess this is the same thing.

Pulse oximeters, which indirectly measure blood oxygen content, are typically placed on the finger. They shine a light through the tissue of the fingertip and measure the absorption of the light. Fingernail polish can interfere with the proper functioning of the sensor. Oximetry is a vital part of anesthesia management.

As far as perfumes, etc. goes - it’s not just to keep you from getting nauseated, but all the other patients in postop, too. Some people really seem to bathe in the stuff, and folks often are queasy as they emerge from anesthesia. Imagine a melange of Red Door (gag!), White Diamonds, Curious, Poison, etc. on top of the smell of blood, antiseptic, and vomit. Not just nausea, either - asthma attacks or allergic reactions can also occur. Health care workers and chronic patients often develop chemical sensitivities due to repeated exposure. In the OR itself, smell sometimes comes into play: e.g. ‘I think there’s a leak in your anesthesia setup’ or ‘I think the bowel is perfed’ or ‘Dr Potter had burritos for lunch.’ However, this is not all that common and the patient is usually pretty well covered up in the OR.

In addition to the answers given, my urologists’ nurse told me that it’s because of the monitor they clip on one fingertip to monitor blood oxygen. According to her, dark colors screw up the monitor’s ability to be accurate. She said I could wear clear nail polish if I like; I’m not big on nail polish, though.