Fit Mind & Body

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Topics to discuss before going under the knife

Many people will find themselves on a surgeon's table at one point or another. Professional athletes who get injured frequently and, of course, surgeons may be accustomed to the surgical wings of hospitals, but the general public has no such familiarity. Perhaps due to that lack of familiarity, many people are nervous before an impending surgery. Asking the right questions prior to the procedure can calm those nerves and help people approach pending surgeries with confidence rather than fear.

Anesthesia

Much of the fear people have in regard to surgery surrounds anesthesia. Few people want to be put completely under, but some surgeries may require that. General anesthesia affects the entire body, and this is the type administered during surgeries that require patients to be unconscious. Regional anesthesia affects a large area of the body, while local anesthesia only numbs a small part. Knowing which type of anesthesia will be administered during a surgery can prepare patients and their families in advance, and may even calm nerves.

Length of surgery

Patients and their families often want to know how long surgeries will last. Patients should discuss this with their physicians and surgeons, especially if family and friends will be in the waiting room while a surgery is performed. If surgeons note there's a possibility that a surgery will be extended after it begins, patients should let family and friends know this, even if they don't want to worry them. People in the waiting room will grow concerned and fearful, possibly unnecessarily, if a surgery is not completed within a certain amount of time.

Pain

Pain might be a side effect of surgery. Knowing this in advance won't raise alarm bells if patients are discharged and begin to experience pain upon arriving home. Ask surgeons if pain is a side effect of your surgery, and where than pain is likely to be felt and for how long. Many people are prescribed opioids to address pain after surgery, but such medications can be addictive. Ask about opioid alternatives, as well as any non-prescription relaxation techniques or therapies that may help manage pain.

Blood clots

Pain is not the only potential side effect of surgery. Some surgeries can increase patients' risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, a type of blood clot that can travel to the lungs and block blood flow. Sometimes referred to as DVT, deep vein thrombosis can be deadly, though it's often treatable when caught quickly. Certain factors, including age, whether or not you're a smoker and a history of clots, can increase a person's risk of developing DVT after surgery. Blood thinners may be prescribed as a precautionary measure.

These are just a handful of topics to discuss with a physician prior to surgery. Patients should not hesitate to ask as many questions as they need to before going in for surgery.

Pulaski Citizen