Senior Health Series: Considering Surgery?

Have you been told that you need to have surgery? If so, you are not alone. Millions of older Americans have surgery each year.

Most surgeries are not emergencies. You have time to find out as much as possible about the surgery, think the matter over, and review other options. You also have time to get a second opinion.

Questions to Ask

Deciding to have surgery can be difficult, but an informed decision may be easier to make once you know why surgery is necessary and whether there are other treatment choices. Your surgeon can help. Talk with your surgeon about your condition and the surgery recommended.

Don't hesitate to ask the surgeon any questions you might have. For example, do the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks?

Your surgeon should welcome your questions. If you don't understand something, ask the surgeon to explain it more clearly. The answers to the following questions will help you become informed and make the best decision.

  • What surgery is recommended?
  • Why do I need surgery?
  • Can another treatment be tried instead of surgery?
  • What if I don't have the surgery?
  • How will the surgery affect my health and lifestyle?
  • Are there any activities that I won't be able to do after surgery?
  • How long will it take to recover?
  • How much experience has the surgeon had doing this kind of surgery?
  • Where will the surgery be done - in the hospital, the doctor's office, a special surgical center, or a day surgery unit of a hospital?
  • What kind of anesthesia will be used?
  • What are the side effects and risks of having anesthesia?
  • Is there anything else I should know about this surgery?