Every surgeon has a different philosophy on patient consultation and the management of medical conditions. It is important to assess your desired outcome and ensure that the surgeon’s approach is aligned with your expectations. A major advantage of elective surgery is that it can be a planned approach to resolving your condition.
When you are approaching elective surgery, it’s important to:
1) Research the basics of your condition
2) Research your surgeon and the hospital
When considering the advantages and disadvantages of different surgical approaches, try to articulate your expectations for the outcome; it’s usually the case that no one approach will satisfy every expectation. What are your priorities?
I would recommend starting your research by looking at the surgeon’s website, which gives you a good idea about their training and background. For example, on my page, you can read about my practice, my research, and reviews from my patients.
Your next step should be to get familiar with your condition, keeping in mind that not everything you read online is accurate. The source of the information is very important. Surgical societies, such as the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) can be good resources for accurate information about most general surgical procedures. Major medical centers also have their own websites, and while their information can be helpful, some of the content is sponsored (and therefore not as objective) since their focus is not just on education, but also the promotion of their centers.
When you go to your surgical consultation, it is important to have a list of questions prepared to discuss with your physician. In my opinion, if your questions are not resolved or the surgeon isn’t happy to discuss your concerns, that is a red flag. Most surgeons are familiar with various surgical options, and should work to align their approach with your expectations. If the surgeon has only one method for approaching your problem, that could mean he has a “one size fits all” approach, and while that might match your desired outcome, you should know the advantages of the other methods before committing to one. Often, the first surgical procedure is the most important, and finding a surgeon who gives you undivided attention and is responsive to your feedback is crucial.
In a nutshell, my advice is as follows: focus on knowing yourself and knowing your surgeon, and expect the procedure to be tailored to your needs.