If you’re getting ready to go under the knife, you may have heard the term Enhanced Recovery After Surgery—but you’re likely wondering What is enhanced recovery after surgery and why in the world should I pay attention to it? Not to worry, friends—today, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about this effective medical practice and how following it will affect your surgery experience for the better!
What is Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS)?
Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (or ERAS® as it’s know in the medical field) is all about facilitating a faster, easier recovery after surgery by taking proactive steps to reduce the amount of stress the body undergoes during surgery.
Essentially, ERAS programs focus on implementing different practices to ensure your surgery recovery is the best it can be. ERAS programs are comprised of 17 key elements for your doctors to follow—like pre-admission counseling for patients, the use of short-acting anaesthetic agents, and fluid-fasting with a presugery drink in place of the traditional “no food or drink after midnight” fast. When you and your doctor follow the elements of an ERAS program, together they work to ensure better surgical outcomes and—just like the name states—an enhanced recovery after surgery.
In other words, the simplest answer to the question: What is enhanced recovery after surgery? is that ERAS programs are all about taking proactive steps to make sure a patient’s surgery experience and recovery are as healthy, safe, and easy as they can be.
Why did ERAS programs come about?
ERAS Programs originated in the UK but are are now increasingly popular in hospitals across the United States. As they realize this evidenced-based program leads to safer surgeries and shorter hospital stays, medical professionals around the world are now implementing ERAS programs in their practices.
What impact do ERAS programs have and who do they benefit?
There’s a body of evidence pointing to the fact that ERAS programs lead to improved outcomes for hospitals and patients. In fact, according to a PubMed analysis of randomized trials, “Three of four included studies showed significantly shorter primary lengths of stay for patients enrolled in enhanced recovery programs.”
ERAS programs are beneficial to both the patient and the hospital: a healthier patient recovers faster, leaves the hospital in a timely manner, and is overall more satisfied with their surgery experience—this leads to money saved for both the hospital and the patient, as well as higher patient satisfaction, which leads to higher doctor pay.
How can I follow ERAS protocols before my surgery—and why should I?
Even if your procedure is relatively minor, the act of undergoing anesthesia is super stressful on the human body. Because of this, the idea behind ERAS is to prep our bodies for that stressful experience in a more purposeful way. Old-school thought has patients not eat or drink anything after midnight (which means undergoing surgery in a weakened state—more on why you shouldn’t fast before surgery here!) and neglects to give us any useful information about how to strengthen your body and mind before you undergo anesthesia. ERAS programs, on the other hand, empower patients with the information they need to get healthy before surgery and enhance their recovery as a result. This includes protocols like:
- Exercising and losing weight if needed
- Quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol
- Making healthy dietary choices
- Replacing the “nothing from midnight” rule with a specific fluid fast
How does ClearFast fit into ERAS programs?
One of the most important of the 17 key ERAS program elements is pre-surgery carbohydrate loading using a compliant ERAS® drink. Replacing the “nothing after midnight” rule with the ERAS-backed suggestion of fluid fasting with a complex-carb beverage can:
- Make for a less stressful surgery experience: In a large controlled study, patients in the pre-op area who drank ClearFast were 5.5-6.5 times more likely to describe themselves as “comfortable” than their cohorts who underwent traditional fasting from midnight.
- Greatly reduce your risk of post-op nausea and vomiting: Being administered heavy anesthesia drugs on an empty stomach is responsible for the sick feeling one in three patients experience upon waking from surgery. (More on reducing post-op nausea and vomiting here!)
- Make for Easier IV Sticks: Dehydration leads to reduced blood flow, which can often mean multiple, painful IV sticks. Many ClearFast customers report easier, pain-free and one-time-only needle sticks as a result of working our preop drink into their surgery prep routine.
- Reduce your risk of aspiration during surgery: The goal of the old-school “nothing from midnight” rule was to ensure your stomach was empty so you didn’t aspirate during surgery. However, modern medical research points to the fact that patients who are given a presurgery drink like ClearFast actually have emptier stomachs than those who had nothing from midnight (because fasting from midnight actually leads to a build-up of gastric acids in your stomach).
Not just any beverage will work when it comes to proper preop carbohydrate loading, though. The key to this ERAS program element is ensuring you’re using a complex carbohydrate-rich beverage that contains primarily maltodextrins—rather than simple sugars like the fructose found in sports drinks. (Sports drinks simply aren’t an option for enhanced recovery.) ClearFast, on the other hand, is the only domestically produced ERAS drink of its kind that is rich in maltodextrins, chock-full of healing ingredients (like zinc & L-citrulline), is clear and colorless, and free of simple sugars and harmful colored dyes. Essentially, it’s the gold-standard for ensuring an enhanced recovery after surgery.
Overall, the stronger your body is going into surgery, the easier your body will recover upon waking up. ERAS programs are all about empowering both patients and medical professional with this knowledge and encouraging them to take proactive steps in order to create a safer, easier, more beneficial surgery experience for both patients and medical professionals.