Going Under the Knife: Understanding the Risks of Surgery

On average, Americans undergo about nine surgeries in their lifetime, with their likelihood of going under the knife increasing with age.

Modern medicine has come a long way in improving our quality of life and even decreasing our lifespans. However, many of us still find surgeries to be a frightening experience—and we’re right to be a little worried.

Any operation is not without potential complications, which is why good doctors go over the risks of surgery with you before you ever go under the knife. No matter what kind of procedure you’re having, it’s important to be aware of the possible outcomes.

Here are a few of the most common risks you may face.

1.Factors That Increase the Risks of Surgery

There are a few conditions that can increase your risk of complications during or after surgery. It’s crucial to speak to your doctor if you have experienced any of the factors below:

  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Lung conditions
  • Kidney problems
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Your surgical team wants to make sure that your experience is as safe as possible, so don’t be afraid to bring your health concerns up as you prepare for surgery.

2.Common Surgical Complications

As stated above, any surgery has its risks—including the complications below. Many of these can be impossible to predict in advance, while others can occur when a member of the surgical team does something that negatively affects your outcome. When this is the case, make sure to follow treatment advice, but don’t forget to also document your concerns in the case of medical malpractice.

3.Anesthesia Complications

Anesthesia is typical of many surgeries and more common for high-risk surgery. Most people will experience normal side effects, like sleepiness, headaches, or confusion upon waking. Others may experience worse side effects: shivering, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

However, in some cases, patients have severe reactions that lead to complications like heart attacks or stroke.

4.Blood-Related Complications

In some cases, a patient may hemorrhage from the site of surgery. This may require further treatment or surgery.

In other cases, patients may develop a blood clot known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) after surgery. DVTs can break off and find their way to the lungs, heart, or brain, which can impair blood flow to these critical areas. As a result, it’s important to follow all post-op instructions to prevent them from happening.

5.Lung Infection

After you’ve been given anesthesia for a surgery, it’s important to sit up and exercise the lungs. Lying down can make it more difficult to breathe, and it can even impact your blood oxygen levels and increase your risk of pneumonia.

Wound Infection

If bacteria enters the body through a surgical incision, the wound may become infected. This can even endanger neighboring tissue and organs. In most cases, you’ll simply be prescribed antibiotics, but in severe cases, you may need a follow-up surgery to remove the infection.

Be Aware of the Risks of Surgery

Your surgery can improve your quality of life—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to understand the full picture. Your surgical team should work with you to examine your medical history and conduct a health assessment prior to your operation, speak with them about any concerns about your risks of surgery until you feel comfortable trusting them to supervise your care.

Looking for more of the critical health insights you need? Check out our other posts for more information.