Ten Common Questions Before Surgery

Getting the Most Out of Your Surgery

Surgical instruments
Preparing For a Surgical Case. Image Source/Getty Images

Why Can't I Eat Before Surgery?

Here is the short answer: eating before surgery can lead to pneumonia and other serious complications.  No one wants you to be hungry and cranky prior to your procedure, they just want you to be well after surgery.

How to Find a Surgeon?

Finding a surgeon is incredibly important, and will be one of the biggest factors in how successful your surgery is in the long run.  A great surgeon can mean the difference between an outstanding outcome and an acceptable outcome.

 

How Much Will Surgery Cost?

You should have this figured out prior to surgery if humanly possible.  Your surgeon should be able to give you an estimate of the cost of surgery, but that estimate may only include the costs for which the surgeon will send a bill.  Anesthesia will give you a bill, the hospital or surgical center will give you a bill, you may even get a separate bill for all of the laboratory testing done prior to surgery.  All of those bills add up and you still have to talk to your insurance company to see how much you will be responsible for!   It is important to talk to every individual or company that will be sending a bill for your procedure and get an estimate for the charges.  Otherwise, you will be in for a huge shock when the bills start coming in and the amounts are shocking.  

Why is Surgery So Expensive?

Surgery is expensive because it takes so much manpower, expensive equipment, expensive medication and even more expensive specialized facilities to make surgery possible.

 It is incredibly expensive to employ a surgical team, build a surgical center, staff a pharmacist to provide all necessary medications, provide 24 hour nursing care, and the list goes on and on.  

Does Every Surgery Really Have a Risk of Dying?

Yes, every surgery has a risk of death, but some surgeries have a much higher risk of death than others.

 For example, the patient who was in a terrible car crash with many broken bones, serious organ damage and a traumatic brain injury who is taken to surgery has a much higher risk of death than a healthy individual who is having their wisdom teeth removed.  Are you going to die during surgery? It is absolutely unlikely, but you should still take surgery very seriously. 

Are All of These Tests Really Necessary?

There are many tests that are done before and after surgery, and some that are even done during surgery.  They are necessary.  The tests prior to surgery are often done for two reasons. The first reason is to make sure that you actually need surgery. The second reason for the tests is to insure that you are a good candidate for surgery, meaning you are well enough to tolerate the procedure and the recovery time that follows. 

I'm Freaking Out, Can You Help Me Before Surgery?

Surgical anxiety is absolutely normal, the idea of surgery can be very scary.  For some people, the thought of anesthesia is scary, while for others they dread the pain and inconvenience of recovering.

 Regardless of the reason, it is possible to deal with fear and anxiety related to surgery.

How Do I Do a Bowel Prep?

If you need to do a bowel prep, some of the key pieces of advice are:

1) Just because you can't eat after midnight doesn't mean you should have a huge meal at 11:30! Eating a light meal for dinner will make it easier to complete your bowel prep.  A large heavy meal just makes bowel prep harder.

2) Slow down if the process is making you feel ill

3) Even if you are drinking a lot of medication you can still be dehydrated.

Do I Have to Have Surgery?

If your surgeon says that you absolutely have to have surgery, that may be the case.  In emergency situations, seconds count, and surgery may be the only option.  In most situations, you will have more than enough time to seek out a second opinion, and sometimes even a third opinion, before making a decision.  

For some types of surgeries, physical therapy, occupational therapy, pain management and other types of treatment can be tried prior to committing to a surgical procedure.  

Understand the Risks of Surgery

Surgery has risks, ranging from the barely irritating, like a sore throat or mild bruising, to the risk of dying during a procedure. Understanding the risks of a specific procedure is important, but you also need to know your own personal level of risk, based on your age, current health, medical history and other personal details.   Your surgeon, and others involved in your care, are the only people who can accurately determine your individual level of risk.  

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