If your health practitioner has recommended that you undergo emergency surgery or just a common operation, a general surgeon will handle your case. However, most people overlook the role of general surgeons in the health sector.
In this article, we will discuss who general surgeons are, their role, and when to seek their services.
Who is a General Surgeon?
A general surgeon is a doctor who carries out surgical procedures. Surgery is a procedure that involves altering body tissues to treat or even diagnose an underlying medical condition. A surgical team usually carries out surgery. The team includes nurses, surgical technicians, anesthesiologists, and a general surgeon. The surgeon discusses the procedure with the patient or caregivers before the surgery.
What is the Role of a General Surgeon?
Some surgeries, such as heart or brain surgery, call the attention of surgeons who have specialized in those fields. However, general surgeons perform other surgical procedures that fall under general surgery.
General surgeons are well informed about all surgical processes right from the first evaluation stage to preparation, procedure, and post-operative management. These surgeons have a broad range of expertise and can handle the following areas of surgery;
- The neck and the head
- The abdomen and the digestive tract
- The heart and the blood vessels
- The endocrine system
- Gallbladder surgery
- Spleen surgery
- Surgical cancer treatment
- Caring for severely ill patients recommended for surgical procedures and more.
Present-day general surgeons use minimally invasive procedures such as laparoscopy. Laparoscopic surgeries use small tools such as tiny cameras that allow a surgeon to monitor what’s happening inside a patient’s body. With the availability of specialized equipment, the surgeon will make more minor cuts, unlike when they are using traditional conventional procedures.
General surgeons know how to handle a wide range of diseases and conditions. They know when a patient needs to undergo surgery and the most suitable type of surgery in each case.
Essentially, general surgeons are specialist with in-depth knowledge about the following;
- The functioning and health structure of your body
- Blood flow patterns and clots
- Antibiotics and infections
- The functioning of the immune system
- The wound healing process, and so on.
Since general surgeons treat various people, they offer personalized treatment to suit individual needs.
When Do I Need the Services of a General Surgeon?
There are various circumstances when patients seek the services of a general surgeon. Below we’ve highlighted some of these instances;
When your physician recommends surgery
Your physician may recommend surgery depending on your condition if they feel that non-surgical treatment isn’t enough. In that case, you’ll be referred to a general surgeon.
- Medical emergencies
Some medical conditions are emergencies and therefore require immediate attention before things escalate. Some of them are gunshot, hernia, gallstones, and appendicitis, among others. The attention of a general surgeon is needed to save lives.
- Opt for an Elective Procedure
An elective procedure is when a patient and the doctor decide to schedule surgery in advance. These are surgeries involving removing throat tonsils, eliminating swollen veins in the anus or rectum, and hemorrhoidectomies.
Questions to Ask General Surgeon before Surgery
Millions of people across the world undergo surgery every year. This explains the increasing demand for general surgeons globally. If you are undergoing surgery, you must understand why the surgery needs to be done, the risks involved, and what the procedure entails.
If you are well-informed, you can decide whether to go ahead with the surgery or not. We’ve discussed important questions to ask your doctor before undergoing any surgery. Make sure they explain all complicated medical terms, surgical procedures, and what to expect.
- Why are you recommending the operation?
You should not wait until you are in the operation room to understand why the operation is being carried out. Enquire to know how it will help you. You can also ask about the procedure to be used and why the surgeon prefers it over the rest.
- Is the Surgery meant to diagnose an underlying problem or to treat it?
In most cases, surgery is carried out to diagnose a health problem or to treat it. Your doctor should explain the exact reason for your operation. Ask if it will improve your health.
- Are there other alternatives apart from surgery?
Based on your medical condition, other nonsurgical options, including lifestyle changes, may be effective, just like surgery. If that’s the case, you can opt for them over surgical procedures. Make sure you clearly understand the risks and benefits involved in the surgical procedure.
Keep in mind that sometimes you can be subjected to ‘watchful waiting’ where your physician monitors your medical condition to evaluate the progression of the disease. In case your condition improves, the surgery can be postponed or stopped altogether. However, if a general surgeon insists on doing the surgery even after your condition stabilizes, you should not resist. That’s because they’ll have a valid reason for doing so.
- Ask whether the surgery offers long-term or short-term benefits
Be sure to ask about the benefits of the surgery and how long those benefits will last. That’s because some have temporary benefits, and you may have to undergo a second surgery. However, some surgeries need to be done only once.
- Discuss the possible complications
Surgical procedures carry some risks. So, weigh the benefits and the risks beforehand to make a well-informed decision. Some of the possible complications include bleeding, infection, and side effects. If you are aware of potential complications, you can seek medical attention if you notice such signs after the surgery. Ask your doctor ways of managing the pain or discomfort that may occur after the procedure.
- What could happen to me if the operation is not done?
Sometimes you may decide that you won’t have the operation, especially if the risks outweigh the benefits. At that point, ask your doctor whether the condition can be life-threatening.
- Ask about the general surgeon experience
The experience of a general surgeon matters. With an experienced surgeon, the risk is mitigated. Thus, it is crucial that you ask the surgeon about their years of service and if they’ve handled patients with similar medical problems. Make sure a surgeon does the surgery with a good record of success.