What Are the Different Types of Elective Surgery?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 16 May 2020
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Elective surgery is a type of surgery that may or may not be medically necessary but can be scheduled in advance because it is not urgent. It is important to realize that elective is not the same as optional, and just because a procedure is not dependent on time when it is scheduled does not mean that it can be put off indefinitely. Commonly, people think of plastic surgery when hearing of elective surgery, but organ donations, mastectomies, and tonsillectomies can all be elective surgeries of various degrees of urgency. These procdures are sometimes quite serious and risky, and because the patient has time to anticipate the surgery can be the subject of significant anxiety.

Most surgeries that are performed are elective surgeries involving planning and scheduling the surgery in advance. When a surgery can be scheduled in advance but absolutely must be done to preserve the patient's life, the procedure is considered semi-elective. These types of procedures are contrasted to urgent and emergency surgeries, which must be done as soon as possible. Elective surgery is performed on many different body parts and to fix many different disorders, but all these surgeries have a lack of urgency in common.

Many of the different surgeries considered under this category can make patients more comfortable or may prevent problems later on. For example, hemorrhoid surgery is usually elective but can prevent serious pain and bleeding as well as risks of complications. Some surgeries of this type can even reduce the risk of cancer later in life, as is the case for preemptive mastectomies in women with a family history of breast cancer.

Another type of elective surgery includes procedures done purely for subjective aesthetic reasons. Cosmetic surgery can improve the look of almost any body part and may involve restructuring the face, increasing breast size, or reducing fat. Elective dental surgery is sometimes considered cosmetic surgery as well.

Sometimes, a healthy person might undergo elective surgery in order to help another person, as is the case with organ donations. This procedure may be urgent from the perspective of the sick patient. Even so, it is typically considered elective for the healthy patient.

It is important to remember that elective surgeries are still dangerous operations and that complications can arise even in relatively simple procedures. While most procedures are safe and uneventful, some can have unforeseen problems that can result in paralysis, permanent nerve damage, or even death. For these reasons, surgery is typically treated as a last resort, and frivolous plastic surgeries are not considered wise.

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Post 2

@raynbow- I think that one of the factors that increases the risks of elective surgery for cosmetic reasons is that people do rush into these procedures with the idea in mind that they are not serious. This carelessness alone will increase the risk of not using a qualified surgeon and not following post-op instructions that help to speed along the healing process.

Anyone considering elective cosmetic surgery should research the procedure he or she wants to have to know what to expect. Next, he or she should search for a board certified surgeon with experience performing the particular procedure.

Finally, if a person decides to have a cosmetic procedure, he or she should be clear about the post-operative instructions and follow them completely. Though there will still be risks such as infections and complications, they will be reduced when a patient is proactive and compliant.

Post 1

Until I read this article I never really thought of elective cosmetic surgery as being as dangerous as surgery that may be necessary due to an illness or disease. How can you reduce the risks that may occur during elective procedures for cosmetic purposes?

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