Must-Ask Questions Before Surgery

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My best advice to people undergoing surgery is to be prepared. There are a lot of things you can do before you're admitted into the hospital to help improve your recovery. One of those things is asking the right questions before going under the knife. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Your surgeon might do this procedure every day but he or she realizes that you will be apprehensive. It is our job to make sure our patients are comfortable with their decisions. Take this list of "must ask" questions with you to discuss with your surgeon.

Questions you should ask before going into surgery_

1. What does the surgery entail?

Make sure you understand exactly what will be done in the procedure. Also ask how long it will take to complete the surgery. I encourage my patients to do some research before coming to the hospital. But, please don't go overboard. I've had patients get on the Internet and work themselves into a panic. To avoid doing that, just ask your doctor!

2. Who will be performing the surgery?

Make sure the attending surgeon will be the physician performing your surgery. This may seem like a no-brainer but make sure you ask. You'll be surprised how many times surgeons, other than your own, are scheduled to do the treatment. 3. What type of anesthesia will I have?

There are three types of anesthesia you may need to have during surgery. Local anesthesia numbs only a small area and lasts for a short time period. Regional anesthesia, like an epidural given to a woman in labor, is given near a cluster of nerves which will numb a larger area of your body. General anesthesia is used to put a patient to "sleep" and make them unconscious. This means you won't have any awareness or memory of the procedure.

4. How long will I be in the hospital?

Some procedures require a long recovery time in the hospital. In this case it's important to get all of your affairs in order beforehand. You may have to take off time from work, schedule bill payments in advance, or arrange childcare. For most surgeries, you will only need to stay in the hospital for a few days, if at all. I'm sure you will anticipate going home but just know that you will be getting the best possible care in the hospital. 5. What is the recovery time?

It's important to have a long-term plan after having surgery, especially if you will need to take off from work. Sometimes you will require physical therapy or other treatments. You might have to have a family member or friend take you to follow up appointments as well.

6. What types of activities can I do?

Any kind of surgery is taxing on the body. You need to give your body time to heal. Ask your doctor what types of activities you should avoid right after surgery. Sometimes you will be asked to get up right after surgery and walk around. Other times, your doctor will limit your activities greatly. 7. Will I need a visiting nurse once I'm home?

A little help could be just what the doctor ordered. Depending on what kind of surgery you had and your age, a visiting nurse could be a life-saver. Most insurance companies will pay for part or all of this type of care and it's worth looking into. Talk to your doctor about whether having a nurse help you would benefit your recovery.

I'm sure you'll have many more questions going into surgery. This list is just meant to be a jumping off point. Keep a journal and write down any thoughts, feelings or questions you might have and share it with your surgeon. Your surgeon should be your number one source for information.

Dr. Cynara Coomer is the Chief of Breast Surgery & Director of The Comprehensive Breast Center at Staten Island University Hospital. She is also an assistant clinical professor of surgery specializing in breast health and breast cancer surgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She is a FOX News Health contributor providing medical expertise on a variety of topics in cancer research with a focus on women's health, breast diseases and tips for healthy breasts at any age. If you have a question email her at