Are you about to have an operation and don’t know what to expect? Does a lack of information make you anxious or afraid? The more you know about your upcoming surgery, the less stressed and confident you will be. Take a few minutes to find out everything you need to know about the procedure, what to ask and what to expect when you leave the operating theatre.
How many types of operations are there and what does each involve?
Surgery is a form of medical treatment that traditionally involves opening the body through a large incision to perform the procedure. Today, technological advances have made it possible to perform operations using a small incision (less than a centimeter) and the use of tiny instruments and a camera which are passed through narrow tubes called trocars, which help the surgeon to manipulate and treat the organs inside the body.
This type of surgery is called laparoscopic surgery and is increasingly used today because of its many advantages, including reduced pain after surgery, much smaller incisions and catheters, lower risk of post-operative complications, reduced hospitalization and faster recovery.
However, there are some situations where the only option is the traditional operation, which involves a large incision to ensure good visibility of the targeted organ. Sometimes it is possible to switch from laparoscopy to the classic method in the middle of the operation if complications arise that can be more easily addressed by a large incision.
The purpose of surgery varies, but it may be recommended to establish or confirm a diagnosis, remove damaged tissue or an obstruction, repair or reposition tissues or organs, implant devices, reroute blood vessels or transplant tissues or organs. Some people opt for surgery for aesthetic reasons.
How should you prepare for surgery?
Firstly, before surgery you will have a consultation or more, where doctors will find out more about your medical history, what treatments you are taking and any allergies to ensure that nothing will interact with the anesthesia.
Also, preparation for surgery varies depending on your diagnosis and the doctor will tell you what you need to do. However, in the case of a general anesthesia, you may be asked to observe the following:
- Stop drinking and eating for a certain period of time before the operation.
- Wash or cleanse and possibly epilate the area to be operated on.
- Have various blood tests, X-rays, electrocardiograms, or other procedures required for surgery.
- Sometimes a patient may be asked to have an enema in the evening before surgery to empty the bowels.
- Do not wear make-up on the day of surgery.
- Do not wear nail varnish.
- Do not wear eye contacts.
- Do not wear jewelry.
- Consult your healthcare professional about prosthetic or other prosthetic devices you may wear.
Who is the team that will be in the operating room?
A team of doctors and nurses will work together to ensure the smooth running of the operation. Certain people may or may not be in the room depending on the specifics of the operation, but they are generally present:
- The surgeon. He or she will lead the team and perform the operation. He or she may be accompanied by resident surgeons to assist.
- The anesthetist, who administers the anesthetic and monitors your vital signs throughout the operation, such as pulse, blood pressure, oxygen levels and adjusts the dose of anesthetic according to your needs.
- Medical assistant – there may be more than one present in the room to assist the surgeon during the procedure and administer medication.
What happens during the operation?
Once you enter the operating theatre, you will be placed on the table and connected to all the devices designed to monitor you. You will be connected to oxygen via a mask and the anesthetist will administer anesthetics to prevent pain and put you to sleep. They will also put a pulse oximeter on your finger to see your blood oxygen saturation during the operation, a blood pressure cuff to monitor your blood pressure and chest electrodes to monitor your pulse and heart rate.
What type of anesthesia will you receive?
Anesthesia is used so that the operation can take place without unnecessary pain. Your surgeon can tell you whether the operation requires local, regional, or general anesthesia and why one of these is most suitable for your procedure.
- Local anesthesia numbs only one part of the body and only for a short time.
- Regional anesthesia numbs a larger part of the body – for example, the lower body – for a few hours. In most cases, you will be awake during surgery with regional anesthesia, such as caesarean section or others that require only spinal anesthesia.
- General anesthesia numbs your whole body, and you will be asleep for a longer period of time. It also comes with the most risks.
What happens after an operation?
After surgery, you will be moved to a recovery room where you will be constantly monitored to avoid post-operative complications. When you have recovered enough to go home, you will be discharged. Hospitalization time varies between classic and laparoscopic surgery, with the latter allowing you to go home after one day.
Recovery in each type of operation
Recovery depends largely on the type of operation you have had.
For recovery after general anesthesia, it may take a few hours for the anesthetic to fully wear off. After the anesthesia has passed, you may be left in pain, for which you will be prescribed certain painkillers. Recovery after Regional Anesthesia is much faster.
Deep coughing is encouraged after surgery. Coughing expands the lungs and helps prevent pneumonia and other breathing difficulties.
Incision care is also important after surgery. Depending on the nature of the surgery, some require the dressing to be changed frequently or only when recommended by the surgeon. Staff will show you how to care for the wound after you get home.
You may need a urinary catheter if you cannot urinate yourself. In addition to temporary bladder paralysis, the digestive tract is also slow to wake up after anesthesia. Once your digestive system starts to move, you will be allowed to resume eating a liquid diet and after a period recommended by your doctor, switch to a normal diet.
The level of activity allowed also varies depending on the procedure. In most cases you will not be allowed to lift weights for a period of time to prevent the incision from opening, and in some cases you will need physiotherapy for a full recovery.
The most important questions you should ask your doctor or surgeon
Why do I need surgery?
The reasons why you may end up on the operating table vary widely, from treating pain to diagnosing or treating a health problem. Your surgeon will explain the reasoning behind the decision to have surgery, why it’s important, what it will help you with and make sure you understand how it will improve your health.
Do I have any other surgical or non-surgical treatment alternatives?
In some cases, certain therapies, drugs or non-surgical treatments such as lifestyle changes may prove as useful as surgery in treating a condition. Your doctor will help you weigh the risks and benefits of each option so that you can make an informed decision about whether surgery is necessary. In some cases a waiting period may be used, with the doctor monitoring your condition to see how the disease is progressing and to be sure of the need for surgery, and in others surgery is the only treatment you can have.
What are the benefits of surgery and how long does it last?
It is important to inform yourself about all the benefits of surgery and weigh them against the risks. Taking into account that some surgeries bring temporary benefits, and you might need a second surgery, and that the results of others last a long time, you should make a decision according to the results given by the surgery and your expectations should be realistic. For example, in the case of a cosmetic operation it is quite possible that further surgery may be necessary over time to correct or renew the results, but in the case of an operation such as a hysterectomy, where the uterus is removed, a second operation is not necessary in the vast majority of cases.
What are the risks and possible complications associated with your procedure?
Every operation is different in terms of outcome because everybody is different. No one can be certain that an operation is 100% safe. Any surgery comes with risks related to anesthesia, complications such as infection, bleeding or blood clots, side effects, pain, some more bearable than others.
It is therefore very important to know when to contact medical help. Pain will usually be kept under control with the help of painkillers prescribed by your doctor. If you develop a fever, redness, and warmth in the incision, it may be a sign of infection and you will be given antibiotics.
If the incision reopens or leaks (blood or pus, which is also an indicator of infection) you should contact your surgeon immediately to clean the area.
Neglecting this complication can lead to systemic infection, called septicemia. If you feel abnormal tiredness, pallor, your skin is sweaty, your blood pressure is low and your pulse is very high, it could be a sign of bleeding and you may need another procedure to stop it.
Laparoscopic general surgery is a particularly important section of the VenArt clinic.
Surgeries are performed by doctors with extensive experience, specializing in renowned clinics in Europe, the US.
Thanks to innovative medical techniques, many conditions are treated by minimally invasive (laparoscopic) methods. Thus, more than 60% of patients can be treated on an outpatient basis.
For all the details please visit the general surgery section of our clinic.
VenArt Clinic is in contractual relations (Health Insurance) with Signal Iduna, NN Insurance, Star BT, Sano Pass, Medicover, Allianz Țiriac.