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You Need to Know about Surgery

 Understand Your Options

With everything that’s going through your mind after you’ve been told that you may need a surgical procedure, it’s important to focus and think through your options. Is surgery your only choice or are there alternatives? If you do need surgery, do you need it now or can you — and should you — wait? Are there different surgical procedures to choose from? Discuss details of your treatment options with your doctor, scheduling more than one consultation if necessary.

Select an Experienced Surgical Team

With your primary care doctor’s help, choose an experienced surgeon and a facility that specializes in performing operations for your particular condition. In addition to working with a qualified surgeon, scheduling your procedure in a hospital that does a high volume of the surgical procedures you’re having is also important to ensure a successful surgery. A recent study showed that hospitals where many cancer surgeries were performed had better survival rates than hospitals where fewer surgeries were done.

Follow Pre-Surgery Prep Instructions

In the time leading up to your surgical procedure, be sure to take good care of yourself and follow your doctor’s advice. Surgery puts stress on the body, so the stronger you are physically, the better you’ll handle it. Even the most qualified surgeon would prefer to operate on a healthy patient, so get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and if you smoke, stop for at least two weeks prior to your surgery. Also follow your doctor’s directions when it comes to taking or stopping medications before your operation.

Timing Is Everything With Surgery

A study conducted at Duke University found that the lowest incidence of complications and errors related to anesthesia and pain management occurred with procedures conducted on weekdays at 9 a.m. That said, the complications that occurred at other times were relatively minor. Perhaps the most important aspect of timing is not putting it off — don’t wait too long to get needed surgery. Delaying surgery after you and your doctor have agreed that you’re ready for the procedure may allow your condition to worsen, which can increase your risk of surgical complications.

Be Aware of Possible Surgical Complications

Of course, you’ll hope for the best — having a positive outlook can help speed your recovery. But it’s important to realize that post-surgical and anesthesia complications are possible. Being a good patient means being well-informed. A qualified surgeon and surgical care team will tell you about the most common complications, how to recognize them, what to do about them, and when you should call or return to the hospital if necessary.