Lifespan Surgical Services

Showering Instructions before Surgery

Before your surgery, your skin needs to be as clean as possible. You can decrease the germs on your skin and reduce your risk of infection by following the shower instructions we have provided.

You are required to shower both the night before and the morning of your surgery.

Use Special Soap

The night before and the morning of surgery, shower with a special soap called chlorhexidine (preferred), or a similar antibacterial product (such as Dial, Dove Men’s-Care, or Softsoap) that contains Benzalkonium as an active ingredient. If you cannot shower, a sponge bath is acceptable.

  • We can mail you this special soap, if time allows.
  • If there isn't enough time to mail it to you, you can come to our office at 208 Collyer Street, Providence between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday to pick it up.
  • You can also purchase these products at most pharmacies. Chlorhexidine (4%) is typically sold in the first aid section of the store as an over-the-counter item. No prescription is necessary.

Showering the Night Before Surgery

  1. First wash your face and hair:
  • If you are having surgery above your neck (face or head), please wash your face and hair with an antibacterial product that has Benzalkonium in it (see examples above). Do not use chlorhexidine containing products above the neck.
  • If you are having surgery below the neck, wash your face and hair first with your usual products and rinse.
  1. Once you have finished washing your face and hair, turn the water off, or step out of the water.

  2. Apply the special soap to a clean wet washcloth. Use an amount similar to what you would normally apply to wash your body with any other product.

  3. Do not use this product on open wounds or any internal areas.

  4. Wash your entire body from the neck down, gently, and continuously for five full minutes. It will not lather much. There is no need to scrub hard.

  5. After the five-minute wash, turn the water back on and rinse off the special soap.

  6. Gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel. Do not rub your skin.

  7. Do not shave near the area where you will have your surgery.

  8. Do not apply any lotions, oils, creams, or powders after bathing.

  9. Dress in freshly washed clothes for sleeping.

  10. Sleep on freshly washed sheets the night before surgery.

The Morning of Surgery

Repeat the entire showering process (as described above) using the special soap again for five full minutes.

  • You can brush your teeth.
  • Deodorant is allowed unless surgery will be close to the underarm area.
  • Dress in clean, comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and wear shoes with non-skid soles.
  • Remember to remove all jewelry and take out all piercings before coming the to the hospital.