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Blogs | Health Tips

What questions should I ask my surgeon?

Asking the right questions can not only bring peace of mind, but help ensure the surgery goes smoothly

What questions should I ask my surgeon? Well surgery can be quite a daunting prospect for anybody, even if it is for something minor. And for an expat working overseas, it opens up an extra layer of complications.

However, being prepared and asking the right questions will boost your peace of mind, while also helping the surgical team in the process.

“This is such a vital issue,” says Dr Jace Clarke of William Russell. “People often have surgery without really being aware of the risks involved.”

Here are some questions you can ask your surgeon.

Why am I having surgery?

This is pertinent for expats who may not be able to visit their regular doctor, who knows them well.

“The first thing is diagnosis,” says Dr Clarke. “Why am I having surgery? Do I need it? Then if I do need it, in the surgeon’s experience, where is the best medical facility to have it done?”

Is the surgery proposed definitely necessary?

“What are the risks of not having surgery? This is important, because maybe nothing significant will happen,” says Dr Clarke.

Although surgeons will only recommend a procedure that they feel will be of benefit to you, it may be the case that you feel a second opinion might be helpful in making your final decision.

You should also try to find out how long the benefits of surgery will last for, or if you will need any further treatment. If the benefits are only going to last a couple of years, talk to your surgeon to understand if the surgery is actually worth having.

What questions should I ask my surgeon?

Expats have many of their own considerations. Living in another location around the world could mean you are very close to another country with a great reputation for the surgery you need.

Getting to know the surgery team

When you have decided to have the surgery, knowing that the team contains the right people with the appropriate qualifications is vital to your peace of mind.

Find out the reputation of the hospital for this particular type of surgery. One can research the surgical team’s success and complication rates. These may all be good indicators to how your surgery will go.

“Ask the surgeon about their experience in carrying out the recommended procedure,” says Dr Clarke. “What technique are they going to use? Is that their preferred technique? At what point, if at all, will other, more junior doctors be involved?”

It’s vital to know the anaesthetist as well. They play a key role in the operation and ensuring the safety of patients. Will the procedure be carried out under local or general anaesthetic?

Expats have many of their own considerations. Living in another location around the world could mean you are very close to another country with a great reputation for the surgery you need.

“Obviously the quality of the hospital is vital,” says Dr Clarke. “If you need to go to a hospital in a neighbouring country, who pays for the travel and post-operative accommodation? Is it worth travelling long distances and perhaps being away from your family and social support systems?”

How can I help make the surgery go well?

Your surgeon will be able to advise on some steps you could take to make yourself more prepared for the effects of surgery. Stopping smoking, losing weight, doing more exercise – all of these things may help get you into the right shape physically.

“You also need to prepare yourself psychologically,” says Dr Clarke. “If you’re having major cardiac surgery, for example, then it can be very mentally demanding for both you and your family.”

Life after surgery

The effects on your life afterwards can vary, both physically and socially, so never feel apprehensive about asking too many questions.

For example, how long will you have to stay in hospital afterwards, how long will you be off work, or how long will your movement be impaired? Also, will you need assistance, such as a wheelchair or walking stick, or rehabilitation?

The surgeon should be able to advise on what activities you can or can’t do afterwards, and for how long. These questions could include driving, flying, eating, exercise, or sexual intercourse.

And for career-driven expats, there are questions to be asked about the impact on your ability to work. If you travel somewhere, when will you be able to fly afterwards? This could create complications in getting home. How will this affect your employment?

“You need to have the complete picture before deciding on surgery,” says Dr Clarke always make sure you know What questions should I ask my surgeon? Always take notes and listen or even record the converstaion.

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