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Surgeons Who Perform 8+ Hour Operations Share How They Deal With Bathroom Breaks and Meals

Slicing someone open and fixing their insides takes some intense concentration and planning. These surgeons reveal what it really takes to pull off a big procedure.

u/TheNerdymax asks:

Surgeons of reddit that do complex surgical procedures which take 8+ hours, how do you deal with things like lunch, breaks, and restroom runs when doing a surgery?

It is well thought out


There are several ways surgeons deal with this. Before they scrub in, they have already mentally thought out their basic timeline in these really long cases. So, how much fluid, caffeine, food and type of food gets planned.


Coffee and pee break

I'm a liver transplant surgeon. I do more living donor than deceased donor transplants. They take longer, typically 8 to 12 hours depending on the complexity.

In most cases, there is a break at the point when the recipient liver is ready to come out but the donor liver is not. There is time for a coffee and a pee.


The extensive planning

Well, I had a 14+ hour brain surgery a couple years ago. It was supposed to be less than 8. I was having an electronic pacemaker type of device installed in there to help control my epilepsy. My neurologist and neurosurgeon had spent more than a month planning exactly where each wire and screw was going to go. No time for breaks.


Nap time is crucial

Level 1 trauma ICU nurse here. One of the longer surgeries for my unit was 23hrs on the table. I asked my cardiac surgeon how they are able to go for so long. He told me he started the emergent case when it arrived and at the 12hr mark relief team was in place to come in and take over. He stayed in the OR till the 16hr mark napped 4hrs then came back in.


It takes a village


As someone who has worked in an OR here's what happens. They break scrub if they really have to piss. In large cases there are usually multiple surgeons to include residents, fellows, med students and interns.


When you are focused food is not an obstacle

It's not that hard to go that long without food or a break when you are that focused on something.

That being said, most cases aren't that long and if they are, it's ok to break scrub to eat/drink/bathroom/breastfeeding surgeon moms will go pump


Everything before hand

Hey. I'm a hand surgeon. For longer procedures you typically try to take care of everything beforehand. Eat, use the bathroom, make sure everything is good to go. The anesthesiologist would be in charge if I left the room, though.


Technicalities of "scrubbing out"

Trained in pediatric CV surgery. Many long cases. The surgeons and ancillary staff would scrub out. The lead surgeon would usually only take 1 break during a long case. (usually multiple surgeons in the same case) You will never see the surgeon and the anesthesiologist taking a break at the same time though. There always has to be an MD/DO present in the O.R.


Tag team surgeons

It's rarely a single surgeon, that's the simple answer

Especially in complex operations, there will always be a team of surgeons (often, there will be a trainee), and they will switch in and out based on the phase of the surgery.


The pros know, just do it!


I am a General Surgeon. You just do it. 12 - 15 hour cases are common. Some of these answers are ridiculous.


The diet Dr. Pepper gets them through

I'm a medical student, but during my surgery rotation, I worked on the hepatobiliary/transplant team which are notorious for long surgeries. There's often one attending physician, 1-3 residents at different levels of training, and a medical student for these long surgeries. I was in a Whipple procedure (very, very long), and at hour 7, the chief resident dismissed me and another resident to go to lunch, and then we came back after eating and peeing. The attending would pop in and out between this surgery and another one he was overseeing. The chief resident didn't take a single break for the entire 10 hours. Surgeons are weird, and they never pee, and they live on Uncrustable sandwiches and diet Dr. Pepper.


If it's not over, you keep going

I have a funny story about this. Surgery was my first clinical rotation during medical school. My first case was a very complicated neck cancer which required General Surgery, Vascular, and Plastics to remove a tumor and replace the patient's esophagus with part of his intestine. We started around 8:30, and by 11:30, I was thinking about lunch, wondering where we would go eat whenever we decided to break. By 12:30, I was getting kind of hungry, hoping we would break soon. At 1:30 I was thinking, "Surely, we have to break soon", and by 2:30 the realization hit me, "Gosh, I guess these guys just don't break for lunch, f*** me." 20 years later it seems obvious to me that if the case ain't done, you keep going until it is. You can scrub out to go pee if you have to, but in my specialty, if the case is going on that long, something's not right and you're so focused on fixing what's wrong that food and water don't even cross your mind.


Everything must be considered

In my experience, needing to blow your nose is a far bigger issue for everyone than hunger or needing to pee. Imagine spending five hours sniffing and feeling a drip on the end of your nose.


You do what you have to do

I've been a surgical nurse for years and I've been in my fair share of 12+ hour cases. Surgeries that are this complicated quite frequently involve more than one surgeon and their assistant(s), usually a PA or NP. A lot of the time they will tag each other in/out. Some of the longest cases I circulated were cancer surgeries that involved immediate first phase reconstruction, so you'd potentially have a cancer doc and a plastics doc, sometimes a neurosurgeon, etc. Each surgeon gets their turn, so there's opportunities for breaks. And in some cases, they just do what they have to do.


Concentration makes time fly


I'm a resident in a Department for neurosurgery. Our surgeries can last very long. If you are the surgeon time will fly because you are focused and concentrated. If you are the assistent it is sometimes very hard to stay concentrated and awake. Most of the time we use the Microscope during Brain surgery. Standing for Hours and looking in the microscope while trying to stay concentrated till the performing surgent needs your assistence can be brutally hard.


Break after 8 hours

6-8 hours are longer cases but I wouldn't typically plan to take a break during that. Time does go very fast when you are doing the operating. On OR days I routinely go most days without eating until I'm done with everything for the day and can sit down and enjoy it.


It's all about strategy

I frequently do long operations for complex reconstructions and time sort of passes without knowing. I typically eat a big breakfast but limit liquids other than standard small coffee.


When the surgery is a marathon and then some

My aunt had a recurring brain tumor. Skipping excessive detail, she was 22 years past her 3rd brain surgery when it was discovered that it had returned. Her 4th brain surgery took 10-hours. I met the surgeon afterward. He looked like he had just run an Iron Man.


When you are in the zone

I'm a veterinarian, and I do surgery a few times a month (I work with laboratory animals). For me the excitement and focus while doing surgery kind of shuts off everything else.


A sponge means break time


Medical student here, have been in 6+ hour procedures before. It's dependent on the procedure, but in our case we hit a roadblock that required another surgeon to come and evaluate. We had 2 surgeons, so while waiting for the consult, one surgeon along with me and a resident were told to go take a quick break. They just covered the opened area with sponges (they're more like towels but are called sponges), and we broke scrub to go out quick.


It takes training

I'm a cardiac surgeon. Routinely do operations in the 4-12hr range. I trained as a resident for 10 years after medical school to even start to practice independently. When you are a resident/fellow in a rigorous surgical field, you train your body to get used to those procedures and standing for that long.


Some surgeons are just wimps

Surgical trainee here- I've only scrubbed in 8 hour+ a couple times- the most recent being last month (simultaneous pancreas kidney transplant), where we started at 2pm and ended at 10.30pm.

I'm pretty young (26) so it's no big deal for me, but I do respect the fact that my bosses (40-60) manage to plow through too. Throughout medical school + training you just get used to it, no scratching itches, no toilet breaks, delayed meals.

Personally I don't have lunch for physique reasons (intermittent fasting) and can not eat for more than 30+ hours and still function pretty well. This is not my medical opinion, but I think 3 meals a day is just a social construct, I don't think humans actually need to eat that regularly.


They just do whatever they want

'm a perfusionist, which means I run the cardiopulmonary bypass machine during heart surgery. Often times, nurses and physicians have people they can call to come relieve them for a moment while they relieve themselves. Surgeons and anesthesiologists have a lot of power/clout in the operating room and can hold up the procedure for a bio break, but if a non-physician tried that it wouldn't go over well.


deprivation and candy

Surgeon here. Two things can happen, one, Im so focused on the procedure that I dont feel hungry until im done, and if I dont take liquids during the surgery usually I dont feel like I need to pee. Im talking about a 5 to 8 hr surgery. I try to go into long surgeries well fed. All this being said, Iv had to run to the bathroom for emergencies or felt a little weak for lack of food. They can put a candy in your mouth or something easy to eat, or you can just scrub out and then scrub in again. There are usually 2 to 3 surgeons scrubed in, and not every part of the surgery is critical, so there are moments where you can leave and your team can carry on for the time your out.


This is extreme


My old roommate is a surgical tech.

He has told me that some surgeons have catheterized for long surgeries. Don't know how common that is, but it happens.


There is a prize for self control

Surgical subspeciality resident here - you get good at holding it and planing your hydration accordingly. I've gone 11-12 hours without pissing/drinking/eating. Food tastes delicious afterwards.


Short mental breaks are important

Not that big a deal honestly. Over the years of training you just get used to it. Usually I use the bathroom before I start a case. Very rarely during an unusually long case I may need a break for water or a snack. A break can help with mental fatigue as well. Usually I can find a stable minute to sneak out for 5 minutes if I need it.

I'm never hungry while I operate but can be starving after I'm done.


Time stops when you have a life in your hands


I assist in surgery. Honestly you forget about time.. A 8 hour surgery might seem long when you think about it but in reality you don't notice time passing.


People Reveal The Weirdest Thing About Themselves

Reddit user Isitjustmedownhere asked: 'Give an example; how weird are you really?'

Let's get one thing straight: no one is normal. We're all weird in our own ways, and that is actually normal.

Of course, that doesn't mean we don't all have that one strange trait or quirk that outweighs all the other weirdness we possess.

For me, it's the fact that I'm almost 30 years old, and I still have an imaginary friend. Her name is Sarah, she has red hair and green eyes, and I strongly believe that, since I lived in India when I created her and there were no actual people with red hair around, she was based on Daphne Blake from Scooby-Doo.

I also didn't know the name Sarah when I created her, so that came later. I know she's not really there, hence the term 'imaginary friend,' but she's kind of always been around. We all have conversations in our heads; mine are with Sarah. She keeps me on task and efficient.

My mom thinks I'm crazy that I still have an imaginary friend, and writing about her like this makes me think I may actually be crazy, but I don't mind. As I said, we're all weird, and we all have that one trait that outweighs all the other weirdness.

Redditors know this all too well and are eager to share their weird traits.

It all started when Redditor Isitjustmedownhere asked:

"Give an example; how weird are you really?"

Monsters Under My Bed

"My bed doesn't touch any wall."

"Edit: I guess i should clarify im not rich."

– Practical_Eye_3600

"Gosh the monsters can get you from any angle then."

– bikergirlr7

"At first I thought this was a flex on how big your bedroom is, but then I realized you're just a psycho 😁"

– zenOFiniquity8

Can You See Why?

"I bought one of those super-powerful fans to dry a basement carpet. Afterwards, I realized that it can point straight up and that it would be amazing to use on myself post-shower. Now I squeegee my body with my hands, step out of the shower and get blasted by a wide jet of room-temp air. I barely use my towel at all. Wife thinks I'm weird."

– KingBooRadley


"In 1990 when I was 8 years old and bored on a field trip, I saw a black Oldsmobile Cutlass driving down the street on a hot day to where you could see that mirage like distortion from the heat on the road. I took a “snapshot” by blinking my eyes and told myself “I wonder how long I can remember this image” ….well."

– AquamarineCheetah

"Even before smartphones, I always take "snapshots" by blinking my eyes hoping I'll remember every detail so I can draw it when I get home. Unfortunately, I may have taken so much snapshots that I can no longer remember every detail I want to draw."

"Makes me think my "memory is full.""

– Reasonable-Pirate902

Same, Same

"I have eaten the same lunch every day for the past 4 years and I'm not bored yet."

– OhhGoood

"How f**king big was this lunch when you started?"

– notmyrealnam3

Not Sure Who Was Weirder

"Had a line cook that worked for us for 6 months never said much. My sous chef once told him with no context, "Baw wit da baw daw bang daw bang diggy diggy." The guy smiled, left, and never came back."

– Frostygrunt


"I pace around my house for hours listening to music imagining that I have done all the things I simply lack the brain capacity to do, or in some really bizarre scenarios, I can really get immersed in these imaginations sometimes I don't know if this is some form of schizophrenia or what."

– RandomSharinganUser

"I do the same exact thing, sometimes for hours. When I was young it would be a ridiculous amount of time and many years later it’s sort of trickled off into almost nothing (almost). It’s weird but I just thought it’s how my brain processes sh*t."

– Kolkeia

If Only

"Even as an adult I still think that if you are in a car that goes over a cliff; and right as you are about to hit the ground if you jump up you can avoid the damage and will land safely. I know I'm wrong. You shut up. I'm not crying."

– ShotCompetition2593

Pet Food

"As a kid I would snack on my dog's Milkbones."

– drummerskillit

"Haha, I have a clear memory of myself doing this as well. I was around 3 y/o. Needless to say no one was supervising me."

– Isitjustmedownhere

"When I was younger, one of my responsibilities was to feed the pet fish every day. Instead, I would hide under the futon in the spare bedroom and eat the fish food."

– -GateKeep-

My Favorite Subject

"I'm autistic and have always had a thing for insects. My neurotypical best friend and I used to hang out at this local bar to talk to girls, back in the late 90s. One time he claimed that my tendency to circle conversations back to insects was hurting my game. The next time we went to that bar (with a few other friends), he turned and said sternly "No talking about bugs. Or space, or statistics or other bullsh*t but mainly no bugs." I felt like he was losing his mind over nothing."

"It was summer, the bar had its windows open. Our group hit it off with a group of young ladies, We were all chatting and having a good time. I was talking to one of these girls, my buddy was behind her facing away from me talking to a few other people."

"A cloudless sulphur flies in and lands on little thing that holds coasters."

"Cue Jordan Peele sweating gif."

"The girl notices my tension, and asks if I am looking at the leaf. "Actually, that's a lepidoptera called..." I looked at the back of my friend's head, he wasn't looking, "I mean a butterfly..." I poked it and it spread its wings the girl says "oh that's a BUG?!" and I still remember my friend turning around slowly to look at me with chastisement. The ONE thing he told me not to do."

"I was 21, and was completely not aware that I already had a rep for being an oddball. It got worse from there."

– Phormicidae

*Teeth Chatter*

"I bite ice cream sometimes."


"That's how I am with popsicles. My wife shudders every single time."


Never Speak Of This

"I put ice in my milk."


"You should keep that kind of thing to yourself. Even when asked."

– We-R-Doomed

"There's some disturbing sh*t in this thread, but this one takes the cake."

– RatonaMuffin

More Than Super Hearing

"I can hear the television while it's on mute."

– Tira13e

"What does it say to you, child?"

– Mama_Skip


"I put mustard on my omelettes."

– Deleted User


– NotCrustOr-filling

Evened Up

"Whenever I say a word and feel like I used a half of my mouth more than the other half, I have to even it out by saying the word again using the other half of my mouth more. If I don't do it correctly, that can go on forever until I feel it's ok."

"I do it silently so I don't creep people out."

– LesPaltaX

"That sounds like a symptom of OCD (I have it myself). Some people with OCD feel like certain actions have to be balanced (like counting or making sure physical movements are even). You should find a therapist who specializes in OCD, because they can help you."

– MoonlightKayla

I totally have the same need for things to be balanced! Guess I'm weird and a little OCD!

Close up face of a woman in bed, staring into the camera
Photo by Jen Theodore

Experiencing death is a fascinating and frightening idea.

Who doesn't want to know what is waiting for us on the other side?

But so many of us want to know and then come back and live a little longer.

It would be so great to be sure there is something else.

But the whole dying part is not that great, so we'll have to rely on other people's accounts.

Redditor AlaskaStiletto wanted to hear from everyone who has returned to life, so they asked:

"Redditors who have 'died' and come back to life, what did you see?"


Happy Good Vibes GIF by Major League SoccerGiphy

"My dad's heart stopped when he had a heart attack and he had to be brought back to life. He kept the paper copy of the heart monitor which shows he flatlined. He said he felt an overwhelming sensation of peace, like nothing he had felt before."



"I had surgical complications in 2010 that caused a great deal of blood loss. As a result, I had extremely low blood pressure and could barely stay awake. I remember feeling like I was surrounded by loved ones who had passed. They were in a circle around me and I knew they were there to guide me onwards. I told them I was not ready to go because my kids needed me and I came back."

"My nurse later said she was afraid she’d find me dead every time she came into the room."

"It took months, and blood transfusions, but I recovered."


Take Me Back

"Overwhelming peace and happiness. A bright airy and floating feeling. I live a very stressful life. Imagine finding out the person you have had a crush on reveals they have the same feelings for you and then you win the lotto later that day - that was the feeling I had."

"I never feared death afterward and am relieved when I hear of people dying after suffering from an illness."



The Light Minnie GIF by (G)I-DLEGiphy

"I had a heart surgery with near-death experience, for me at least (well the possibility that those effects are caused by morphine is also there) I just saw black and nothing else but it was warm and I had such inner peace, its weird as I sometimes still think about it and wish this feeling of being so light and free again."


This is why I hate surgery.

You just never know.



"More of a near-death experience. I was electrocuted. I felt like I was in a deep hole looking straight up in the sky. My life flashed before me. Felt sad for my family, but I had a deep sense of peace."



"Nursing in the ICU, we’ve had people try to die on us many times during the years, some successfully. One guy stood out to me. His heart stopped. We called a code, are working on him, and suddenly he comes to. We hadn’t vented him yet, so he was able to talk, and he started screaming, 'Don’t let them take me, don’t let them take me, they are coming,' he was scared and yelling."

"Then he yelled a little more, as we tried to calm him down, he screamed, 'No, No,' and gestured towards the end of the bed, and died again. We didn’t get him back. It was seriously creepy. We called his son to tell him the news, and the son said basically, 'Good, he was an SOB.'”



"My sister died and said it was extremely peaceful. She said it was very loud like a train station and lots of talking and she was stuck in this area that was like a curtain with lots of beautiful colors (colors that you don’t see in real life according to her) a man told her 'He was sorry, but she had to go back as it wasn’t her time.'"


"I had a really similar experience except I was in an endless garden with flowers that were colors I had never seen before. It was quiet and peaceful and a woman in a dress looked at me, shook her head, and just said 'Not yet.' As I was coming back, it was extremely loud, like everyone in the world was trying to talk all at once. It was all very disorienting but it changed my perspective on life!"


The Fog

"I was in a gray fog with a girl who looked a lot like a young version of my grandmother (who was still alive) but dressed like a pioneer in the 1800s she didn't say anything but kept pulling me towards an opening in the wall. I kept refusing to go because I was so tired."

"I finally got tired of her nagging and went and that's when I came to. I had bled out during a c-section and my heart could not beat without blood. They had to deliver the baby and sew up the bleeders. refill me with blood before they could restart my heart so, like, at least 12 minutes gone."


Through the Walls

"My spouse was dead for a couple of minutes one miserable night. She maintains that she saw nothing, but only heard people talking about her like through a wall. The only thing she remembers for absolute certain was begging an ER nurse that she didn't want to die."

"She's quite alive and well today."


Well let's all be happy to be alive.

It seems to be all we have.

Man's waist line
Santhosh Vaithiyanathan/Unsplash

Trying to lose weight is a struggle understood by many people regardless of size.

The goal of reaching a healthy weight may seem unattainable, but with diet and exercise, it can pay off through persistence and discipline.

Seeing the pounds gradually drop off can also be a great motivator and incentivize people to stay the course.

Those who've achieved their respective weight goals shared their experiences when Redditor apprenti8455 asked:

"People who lost a lot of weight, what surprises you the most now?"

Redditors didn't see these coming.

Shiver Me Timbers

"I’m always cold now!"

– Telrom_1

"I had a coworker lose over 130 pounds five or six years ago. I’ve never seen him without a jacket on since."

– r7ndom

"140 lbs lost here starting just before COVID, I feel like that little old lady that's always cold, damn this top comment was on point lmao."

– mr_remy

Drawing Concern

"I lost 100 pounds over a year and a half but since I’m old(70’s) it seems few people comment on it because (I think) they think I’m wasting away from some terminal illness."

– dee-fondy

"Congrats on the weight loss! It’s honestly a real accomplishment 🙂"

"Working in oncology, I can never comment on someone’s weight loss unless I specifically know it was on purpose, regardless of their age. I think it kind of ruffles feathers at times, but like I don’t want to congratulate someone for having cancer or something. It’s a weird place to be in."

– LizardofDeath

Unleashing Insults

"I remember when I lost the first big chunk of weight (around 50 lbs) it was like it gave some people license to talk sh*t about the 'old' me. Old coworkers, friends, made a lot of not just negative, but harsh comments about what I used to look like. One person I met after the big loss saw a picture of me prior and said, 'Wow, we wouldn’t even be friends!'”

"It wasn’t extremely common, but I was a little alarmed by some of the attention. My weight has been up and down since then, but every time I gain a little it gets me a little down thinking about those things people said."

– alanamablamaspama

Not Everything Goes After Losing Weight

"The loose skin is a bit unexpected."

– KeltarCentauri

"I haven’t experienced it myself, but surgery to remove skin takes a long time to recover. Longer than bariatric surgery and usually isn’t covered by insurance unless you have both."

– KatMagic1977

"It definitely does take a long time to recover. My Dad dropped a little over 200 pounds a few years back and decided to go through with skin removal surgery to deal with the excess. His procedure was extensive, as in he had skin taken from just about every part of his body excluding his head, and he went through hell for weeks in recovery, and he was bedridden for a lot of it."

– Jaew96

These Redditors shared their pleasantly surprising experiences.


"I can buy clothes in any store I want."

– WaySavvyD

"When I lost weight I was dying to go find cute, smaller clothes and I really struggled. As someone who had always been restricted to one or two stores that catered to plus-sized clothing, a full mall of shops with items in my size was daunting. Too many options and not enough knowledge of brands that were good vs cheap. I usually went home pretty frustrated."

– ganache98012

No More Symptoms

"Lost about 80 pounds in the past year and a half, biggest thing that I’ve noticed that I haven’t seen mentioned on here yet is my acid reflux and heartburn are basically gone. I used to be popping tums every couple hours and now they just sit in the medicine cabinet collecting dust."

– colleennicole93

Expanding Capabilities

"I'm all for not judging people by their appearance and I recognise that there are unhealthy, unachievable beauty standards, but one thing that is undeniable is that I can just do stuff now. Just stamina and flexibility alone are worth it, appearance is tertiary at best."

– Ramblonius

People Change Their Tune

"How much nicer people are to you."

"My feet weren't 'wide' they were 'fat.'"

– LiZZygsu

"Have to agree. Lost 220 lbs, people make eye contact and hold open doors and stuff"

"And on the foot thing, I also lost a full shoe size numerically and also wear regular width now 😅"

– awholedamngarden

It's gonna take some getting used to.

Bones Everywhere

"Having bones. Collarbones, wrist bones, knee bones, hip bones, ribs. I have so many bones sticking out everywhere and it’s weird as hell."

– Princess-Pancake-97

"I noticed the shadow of my ribs the other day and it threw me, there’s a whole skeleton in here."

– bekastrange

Knee Pillow

"Right?! And they’re so … pointy! Now I get why people sleep with pillows between their legs - the knee bones laying on top of each other (side sleeper here) is weird and jarring."

– snic2030

"I lost only 40 pounds within the last year or so. I’m struggling to relate to most of these comments as I feel like I just 'slimmed down' rather than dropped a ton. But wow, the pillow between the knees at night. YES! I can relate to this. I think a lot of my weight was in my thighs. I never needed to do this up until recently."

– Strongbad23

More Mobility

"I’ve lost 100 lbs since 2020. It’s a collection of little things that surprise me. For at least 10 years I couldn’t put on socks, or tie my shoes. I couldn’t bend over and pick something up. I couldn’t climb a ladder to fix something. Simple things like that I can do now that fascinate me."

"Edit: Some additional little things are sitting in a chair with arms, sitting in a booth in a restaurant, being able to shop in a normal store AND not needing to buy the biggest size there, being able to easily wipe my butt, and looking down and being able to see my penis."

– dma1965

People making significant changes, whether for mental or physical health, can surely find a newfound perspective on life.

But they can also discover different issues they never saw coming.

That being said, overcoming any challenge in life is laudable, especially if it leads to gaining confidence and ditching insecurities.