8 things you need to think about before undergoing surgery


Is there a surgical procedure coming up for you this summer? If so, heed this advice so you can get the procedure you need, heal up and be back to your regular life in no time at all.

Just know that this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive; there are certainly many other things to consider before going under the blade. But it is meant to get you thinking.

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Check the surgeon’s certification

Make sure yours is certified in their specialty! To find out, check the American Board of Surgery’s website and be prepared to enter your surgeon’s first name, last name and state.

Talk to former patients

If you were hiring a contractor to work on your home, you would want that contractor to have good references, right? You might ask for the names and numbers of people on the last 10 jobs they did. Well, the same is true for agreeing to let a surgeon operate on you. You should always ask to talk with prior patients. 

Consider the scheduling of your procedure

You know the thing people used to say about Monday-Friday cars? You never wanted to buy a car that was started in the auto plant on a Friday and finished on Monday because the auto workers probably had their minds on the weekend and not so much on quality control!

The same holds true for when you schedule surgery—sort of. According to Readers Digest, a lot of doctors go out of town on the weekends. So if you need some care a day after your surgery, and your surgery was on Friday, you’ll be stuck seeing someone who is covering for your surgeon over the weekend.

There’s strength in numbers before the surgery

Have a friend or family member accompany you to your pre-op appointment. They can help ask any questions you may forget and build a little more accountability into the equation because the surgeon will see you’re part of a network of people—not just another body going under the blade.

Weigh your alternatives to surgery

Will your pain go away if you just wait it out? Back pain is a common complaint that leads to a lot of surgeries. Yet most back pain resolves itself given enough time.

‘The good news is that for nine out of 10 patients with low back pain, the pain is ‘acute,’ meaning it is short-term and goes away within a few days or weeks,’ according to the Hospital for Special Surgery.  


Here’s an easy alternative to a $50 lumbar support that you can make for just 33 cents at home!

Decide if medical tourism is an option for you

If you need some really expensive surgery, it can often be cheaper to go out of the country for the job. Hungary and Costa Rica, in particular, are hot spots for cheap reconstructive dental procedures. The savings can be extraordinary—up to 75%.

If you are considering going overseas for a procedure, check first with the Joint Commission International to see which facilities are fully accredited. And know the downsides to medical tourism: Bringing malpractice litigation can be difficult; there are fewer regulations; you may face a lack of adequate follow-up care; and the culture shock and jet lag can sometimes be too much for patients.

Make sure the correct area of your body is marked!

A surgeon operating on the wrong side of your body or on a wrong limb is rare, according to the New York Times. Yet it does to happen to hundreds of people each year.

The best way to avoid this unfortunate event is to insist that the surgeon him or herself—not the nurses or other surgical staff—do the marking. You’ll want to do this before you go under anaesthesia, of course!

Have a plan in place for connecting with loved ones after your operation

If you have to recover for more just a few days in a hospital, you’ll want to be sure you’re in the best spirits. That’s where friends and family come in. But if no one can be there, smartphones make it very easy to stay in touch thanks to free video chat options like Skype, Google Chat (for Android), and FaceTime (for Apple iOS).

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