5. What are the risks of having the operation?
All operations carry some risk. This is why you need to weigh the benefits of the operation against the risks of complications or side effects.
Complications can occur around the time of the operation. Complications are unplanned events, such as infection, too much bleeding, reaction to anesthesia, or accidental injury. Some people have an increased risk of complications because of other medical conditions.
In addition, there may be side effects after the operation. For the most part, side effects can be anticipated. For example, your surgeon knows that there will be swelling and some soreness at the site of the operation.
Ask your surgeon about the possible complications and side effects of the operation. There is almost always some pain with surgery. Ask how much there will be and what the doctors and nurses will do to reduce the pain. Controlling the pain will help you be more comfortable while you heal, get well faster, and improve the results of your operation.
6. What if I don't have this operation?
Based on what you learn about the benefits and risks of the operation, you might decide not to have it. Ask your surgeon what you will gain-or lose-by not having the operation now. Could you be in more pain? Could your condition get worse? Could the problem go away?
7. Where can I get a second opinion?
Getting a second opinion from another doctor is a very good way to make sure having the operation is the best alternative for you. Many health insurance plans require patients to get a second opinion before they have certain non-emergency operations. If your plan does not require a second opinion, you may still ask to have one. Check with your insurance company to see if it will pay for a second opinion. If you get one, make sure to get your records from the first doctor so that the second one does not have to repeat tests.
8. What has been your experience in doing the operation?
One way to reduce the risks of surgery is to choose a surgeon who has been thoroughly trained to do the procedure and has plenty of experience doing it. You can ask your surgeon about his or her recent record of successes and complications with this procedure. If it is more comfortable for you, you can discuss the topic of surgeons' qualifications with your regular or primary care doctor.