For most people, surgery is a terrifying word that indicates something is wrong and must be fixed. Many people fear the unknown and are nervous about putting their lives in the hands of their surgical team. Some people fear anesthesia, others fear being operated on, while others fear how their lives will be afterward. These are all completely normal fears, but should not stop you from getting the surgical intervention you need. Surgical practice, technology, and the understanding of the human body has come a long way. In fact, the practice has advanced so much that nowadays not all surgical patients need general anesthesia, some surgeries can be performed laparoscopically, and a lot of surgeries can be performed either outpatient or same-day! Because of these advancements, more and more people are becoming confident in surgery and opting to have suggested elected surgeries to improve the quality of life.

Elective surgeries are those that can be planned in advance and are not performed in an emergency situation to save life or limb. A good deal of these types of surgeries are not medically necessary, but will dramatically improve the quality of life of the patient. Some examples of elective surgeries for children include placement of ear tubes, tonsillectomy, scoliosis correction, and surgeries to perform non-life-threatening birth defects. As a parent, when faced with the option of having your child undergo elective surgery, there are many things to contemplate. In today’s post, we will offer some suggestions to better help you weigh the pros and cons to reach an informed decision.

Is it necessary?

If the surgery is medically necessary or will become medically necessary at some point, it is better to work with your surgical team to devise a surgical plan that works best for your situation and your family. You can plan recovery time and ensure the maximum number of loved ones and a support team will be available after the surgery.

If it is not necessary, you’ll have to ask yourself a few more questions.

Will it improve the quality of life.

The answer to this question is probably a resounding yes. You will not find too many pediatric surgeons who will recommend surgery for a child that will not make a significant improvement to the child’s life. Children who are not done developing are rarely recommended cosmetic surgery until they are through growing.

If the surgical procedure is one that will not make a significant difference in the quality of your child’s life, you may consider alternatives or ask more questions regarding why it is being considered. Be mindful that sometimes a surgical procedure may not improve the physical quality of life, but will help improve self-esteem and the ability to live a more active social life.

What are the risks versus benefits?

Any surgical procedure has an inherent risk, as does anything in life. The risks should be evaluated on how likely they are to occur and the individual risks that your child is more prone to. For instance, bleeding is an inherent risk of most medical procedures where the skin is compromised. So, if your child is relatively healthy, this is not a major concern. However, if your child has a bleeding disorder or has anemia, elective surgery may not be the best option.

The benefits should also be weighed. For instance, does your child’s tonsils block their airway and make it difficult to sleep a full night? Do they cause your child to suffer from strep throat, tonsillitis, or viral pharyngitis multiple times a year? In these cases, the benefits of a tonsillectomy vastly outweigh the risks.

Before you even begin considering the pros and cons of your child’s surgical procedure, your pediatric surgeon will go over all the risks and benefits, discussing in detail how likely they are to occur and how your child’s specific conditions may contribute.

At Alaska Pediatric Surgery, our pediatric surgical team only performs surgical procedures on children. We have decades of experience and have honed our specialized surgical skills. When you come to Alaska Pediatric Surgery, Dr. Roaten will make sure that you know everything there is to know about your child’s condition and all the options that will help. Then, you can make an informed decision. For high-quality patient (and parent) care for all of your pediatric surgical needs, contact us today!