Surgery can be scary because of the unknown factors that come with it. In most cases, surgery is planned — which means you have time to understand all the facts and logistics before going under the knife. Sometimes you are not so lucky, like in the case of emergency surgery. Whether you have time to make a decision or not, consider the following five things before having an operation.
Keep in mind that your surgery technically starts before you even get into pre-op. Your health at the time of surgery can greatly impact your healing time and the outcome of the operation. If you are a cigarette smoker, you should consider stopping smoking. Anesthesiologists recommend that you take steps to quit smoking and remain smoke-free until at least one week after your procedure. This is recommended because smokers typically have an increased chance of complications during and after surgery. Complications include pneumonia, heart attacks, and wound infections.
A surgeon will typically ask you to alter your diet in the days prior to surgery. Depending on the surgery, you may be required to fast completely or avoid specific foods and drinks. Prior to the weeks and days before surgery, you should try your best to eat a well-balanced diet that is rich in vitamin c. This type of diet can help promote tissue healing after surgery. Also note that it is often standard procedure to stop taking aspirin and aspirin-like medications in the week leading up to surgery because they interfere with the way blood clots and can cause complications.
Consider a low-impact exercise regimen in the weeks leading up to your surgery. Regular exercise prior to going under can help build up energy and help maintain strength even after the surgery.If you have any medical issues, like diabetes, discuss the best way to manage or modify your medication intake before your surgery when you are not typically allowed to eat.
Ask your surgeon what the healing time of your surgery is. Some surgeries, like oral surgery, will be a quick outpatient procedure that allows you to be back in the swing of things the next day. However, more invasive surgeries, like a knee replacement, may have you staying in the hospital for several nights. Oftentimes surgeries will require additional rehabilitation time. Knowing when you can return to regular physical activity is an important part of the healing process.
Accept now that pain will occur. It’s inevitable when it comes to surgery. Ask your surgeon how much pain you can expect and which medications will help alleviate that pain. Knowing what type of medication you will need prior to surgery can help relieve some of the stress and guesswork that comes with surgery. By knowing how to care for your surgical wounds properly, you can ensure a quicker and easier recovery time.
The actual amount of discomfort you experience will depend on a number of any factors. The type of surgery is a big factor. You may experience nausea and vomiting from anesthesia in the hours after surgery. If this happens, your doctor can prescribe an anti-nausea medication to counter the effects until the anesthesia wears off.
The timing and reason for an operation often dictates the overall cost of the procedure.
Make sure that you get your procedure pre-approved through your insurance company since most surgeries require a pre-authorization. Make sure you understand your medical plan so that you know what portion of the expenses will be your responsibility. Typically your physician’s office staff can help you find out how much your insurance will cover. If you cannot cover the remaining difference in costs, discuss this with your doctor to see if you can work out a solution together.
Finding financial aid after an emergency surgery if you are not covered under insurance can be very challenging. Without insurance you will be responsible for 100 percent of the charges, and you’ll be responsible for making up the money you lose in income during your recovery. Consider looking into any of these numerous financial aid assistance programs. These types of programs offer different options, often pertaining to medical loans, settlement programs, unemployment benefits, and temporary disability benefits. While they may not all help directly with the cost of the surgery, they will help you get back on your feet afterwards.
Getting a Second Opinion
It’s not always important to get a second opinion, but if you are unsure about the procedure and the relevancy it has to you, get one. There is no harm in asking another doctor their professional opinion. You should know the reasons for why you need a surgery, as well as all the risks involved. If you are having elective surgery, like plastic surgery, you may want to get a second opinion in regards to price point. Sometimes there is no bargaining tool with surgeons, but sometimes there is.
When a doctor says you have to have surgery, you as the patient have the right to have another doctor look at your options with you. You should understand all of your treatment options before making a decision.You also have a right as the patient to participate or not participate in a surgery that is recommended. If your doctor says that your surgery is important, but is not an emergency, it’s up to you to decide when and if you want to have the surgery. If it is an emergency, you should not wait for a second opinion. In the case of blood clots, aneurysms, appendicitis, or severe injuries, emergency surgery will be necessary.
If you do get a second opinion and both doctors agree about your condition and the treatment plan, it doesn’t mean you have to change doctors. It just means that there is confirmation that the surgery is medically necessary. If the second opinion is different than the first, you can go to a third doctor for an opinion. Remember, it’s your body, and you ultimately get to decide what to do with it.
Unfortunately as heavy as it is, it is important to consider what will happen if surgery does not go as planned. An example of a severe, ongoing complication that some patients experience has to do with Ethicon Physiomesh. This product ultimately ended up causing painful injuries for many patients. The mesh eroded inside the body or adhered to parts of the body it wasn’t supposed to. In some cases the mesh even caused bowel perforation. Knowing the complications that can come with your specific surgery is an important thing to consider when you are faced with the need for an operation.
Having a living will or durable power of attorney can help if any complications arise and you are unable to make decisions on your own. Upon going into surgery, you will typically be asked to sign a consent form. This type of document helps you communicate your healthcare wishes and plans if you cannot do so yourself to your surgeon and medical team. These forms are available to you days before surgery so you can confront the risks prior to the day of.
If there is a risk of blood loss during your surgery and you have at least a couple weeks before going under the knife, ask your doctor if you should have blood taken and stored in case it is needed during the surgery. Sometimes if a complication arises, you will need a blood transfusion to recoup the loss your body took. Considering this extra step before surgery can help ease the effects of a complication.
At the end of the day, surgery and the recovery that comes with it is not fun. However, if you consider all the factors you need to before making an informed decision about having the surgery, it can help ease the stress and anxiety that comes with an operation. By focusing on the above five factors of surgery, you are sure to be well informed and well prepared to go under the knife.