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Should You Have Surgery?

If your health care provider has told you that you need surgery, be sure to make informed decisions. Generally, surgeries are not emergencies; you have time to ask questions, decide whether or not it's in your best interest to have the surgery, review your options and even get a second opinion.

The National Institutes of Health recommends that you ask your surgeon any questions you might have, including these:

  • Do the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks?
  • 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?