Elective Surgery…Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons?

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By Brianna Siciliano

There are many types of elective surgeries­—procedures that are not emergencies and can be planned in advanced—including: plastic surgeries (reconstruction and cosmetic procedures), refractive surgeries (laser surgery to correct vision problems), gynecological surgeries (a hysterectomy or a tubal ligation), exploratory or diagnostic surgeries (removes tissue samples for biopsies), cardiovascular surgeries (angioplasty), musculoskeletal surgeries (hip and knee replacements), and elective laparoscopic surgeries (hernia repairs and gallbladder removal procedures). These procedures are all optional, but that does not mean that they are not serious.

In 2009, American patients underwent more than one million total hip and knee replacements, ranking these procedures as one of the most common inpatient surgeries in the United States. Many patients had different reasons for their musculoskeletal surgeries; some patients had their surgery so they could maintain a highly active lifestyle, while other patients—some who were disabled by arthritis—had their procedure done so they could live their life without suffering pain while completing daily tasks.

What are the risks of elective surgeries? Most surgeries carry risks for infections, bleeding, shock, and/or blood clotting.

What are the pros of elective surgeries? Well, older patients who underwent procedures have improved quality of life. These patients are able to live independently, without the need of assistance in their everyday activities. Younger patients who underwent total joint replacement surgery were able to remain independent and continue to work after recovery.

If you are thinking about getting an elective procedure done, ask yourself these questions: Do I want to live in pain for the rest of my life? Would I rather spend the money on myself, so I can feel better and complete daily tasks pain-free, or keep the money and allow myself to struggle while completing tasks like going to the bathroom? What is holding me back from getting this procedure?

It is understandable to worry about the costs and risks of surgeries. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that your health and well-being is much more valuable than the value of a dollar bill. Elective surgeries can make everyday life less painful and more enjoyable. Do the pros of these procedures outweigh the cons? We think so!