In most cases, if you need surgery, your doctor will refer you to a surgeon who will perform the needed operation. Before the operation is performed, you will usually have a consultation appointment with that surgeon and their team. This is an opportunity for the surgeon to evaluate you, determine if you're a good candidate for the recommended procedure, and explain to you what is going to happen during the surgery. It's also an opportunity for you to ask questions, like the following.
What are the options for anesthesia?
The ways surgeons use anesthesia have changed over the years. Since so many procedures are now performed arthroscopically through small incisions, general anesthesia is not always necessary. Your surgeon may be able to perform your procedure with just a local anesthetic, which will numb the area to be operated on, plus a sedative to keep you calm. If you are worried about the prospect of general anesthesia — or on the other hand, if you really want general anesthesia — it's worth asking your surgeon about your options.
Are there any alternative procedures to consider?
Your surgeon will probably recommend the approach that they are most comfortable with and that they feel is best suited to your situation. However, if you feel uncomfortable with the procedure they're recommending, you can ask about alternatives. They may refer you to another surgeon who may have a different approach, or they might describe an alternative approach that they can take. You may also be told that the procedure being recommended is your only good choice, but at least you will know.
How much care will you need afterward?
Try to get an idea of what you will be able to do, and what you will need help doing, after your surgery. This way, you can make plans to have a friend or family member stay with you after the procedure, if needed. If you live with someone, you may want to have them take a few days off from work to care for you if your surgeon feels this will be beneficial. Tell your surgeon about your living situation, and they can make some more specific recommendations for post-surgery care.
If any other questions come to your mind during this appointment, do not be afraid to ask them. While the primary goal of this consultation is to find out if you're a candidate for surgery, it's also a good chance for you to improve your own understanding.
To learn more, reach out to a local general surgeon.