If you're a little apprehensive about an upcoming surgical procedure, you're not alone. Whether you are having a minor procedure or major surgery, it's only natural to feel fearful and worried. But there are things you can do to help alleviate those fears. Here are four ideas to help you feel more confident and less afraid.
Clarify Your Options
If your doctor has recommended surgery, you have the option to seek a second opinion. In fact, some insurance companies require it for certain procedures. Many patients worry they will be offending their physician, but a good doctor will welcome the input from one of his colleagues in the field. Additionally, according to the Patient Advocate Foundation, 30 percent of patients who seek a second opinion for elective surgery and nearly 20 percent of patients whose insurance requires it get an opinion that differs from the original opinion. The differing opinions doesn't necessarily mean one doctor is wrong, however. It just may be a matter of treatment preferences, with one doctor preferring an aggressive rather than a conservative approach.
A second opinion may also bring to your attention other treatment options that weren't initially considered. It may also be possible to delay the surgery in some cases. Only a second opinion will potentially present other alternatives.
Choose An Experienced Team
Some surgeons, hospitals, and surgical facilities specialize in certain procedures. Have your primary care physician and the internet help you research who and where may be best for your specific situation. Knowing you have a team of experts tending to your medical needs can go a long way in allaying your fears.
Follow Your Pre-Op Instructions To A Tee
Your pre-op instructions will vary depending on the procedure, surgeon, and facility, but it is extremely important you do exactly what your physician tells you to do. It is common to have to stop blood thinning medications, like aspirin and Coumadin before surgery. It's also common to not eat or drink anything after midnight the day of the surgery to avoid aspirating while you are under the effects of the anesthesia. Quitting smoking is also recommended at least two weeks before the surgery as it can interfere with the healing process.
Familiarize Yourself With Potential Complications
Chances are, everything will go fine, but surgery and anesthesia have inherent risks associated with them both. Take the responsibility to and do your research. An informed patient s easier for your healthcare team, and it will also provide you with added peace of mind.