Proudly Fighting
for West Virginia
Injury Victims


What Are the Risks of Elective Surgeries?

Published on Feb 27, 2024 at 4:36 pm in Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury.

All surgery has its risks, as any doctor will tell you, even surgeries that are considered non-essential.

Elective surgeries are those that you can schedule in advance. While most people consider “elective” and “optional” interchangeable, that isn’t always the case. Elective surgeries or procedures are often not optional but are usually not immediately necessary.

Put more simply, it’s a surgery you choose to have for a better quality of life versus a surgery you need for a life-threatening condition.

Elective surgery is usually performed for health conditions, such as removing a wart or kidney stones, or for non-medical reasons, such as cosmetic surgery. However, elective surgeries are sometimes done if other forms of treatment for more serious conditions, such as cancer, aren’t working.

So, what are the risks of these elective procedures? We’ll explain more in this post.

Types of Elective Surgeries

When the term “elective surgery” is brought up, most often, people think of cosmetic surgery or some type of procedure to improve a patient’s physical appearance. However, most surgical medical treatments are considered elective in that they can be scheduled at a time to suit the surgeon, hospital, and patient, and many different types of surgeries fall into this category.

The most common elective surgeries are:

  • Hernia repair
  • Cataract surgery
  • Mastectomy
  • Kidney donation
  • Facelifts
  • Breast implants
  • Breast reduction
  • Liposuction

Other surgeries, such as gallbladder removal or an appendectomy, can be elective if the symptoms are not severe. If the patient’s symptoms suddenly worsen, those surgeries would become urgent and no longer considered elective as the surgery is then considered life-threatening.

Understanding Operative Risk

When you discuss surgery with your doctor, they usually go over all the risks or possible complications that may arise during the course of your procedure. This is what’s called operative risk, that is, the risks associated with an operation or surgical procedure.

According to information from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), an estimated 234 million major surgical procedures are performed every year worldwide, and approximately 2 to 3 out of every 10 patients develop complications after an elective surgical procedure.

Any good surgeon will weigh the pros and cons of every procedure to determine if risks are worth facing for each patient before surgery begins.

Those risks usually include the following factors:

  • Disease-related: the nature and severity of a surgical condition
  • Patient-related: past surgical history, comorbidities, social status, lifestyle, etc.
  • Surgery-related: the surgeon’s knowledge, skills, and experience, anesthesia, sterility, type and complexity of the procedure, level of contamination, etc.
  • System-related: quality of preoperative and postoperative care, follow-up, rehabilitation, lifestyle modification

Common Dangers of Surgery

All surgeries have expected risks and complications. Even if you and your doctor thoroughly discuss every known risk for your elective surgery, there is always a chance that sudden problems may occur.

It’s important to know that all surgery is unpredictable. Some of the most common dangers that doctors see in surgery patients are:

  • Anesthesia error or unexpected reaction to anesthesia
  • Excessive bleeding or blood clotting
  • Fluid buildup
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Problems healing

The above-mentioned list covers dangers that can occur in most surgeries, but there are also more specific dangers relating to some of the most common elective procedures.

Plastic Surgery Dangers

Plastic surgeries are performed to reconstruct or replace parts of the body, either after an injury or for cosmetic reasons. These types of surgeries are rarely considered medically necessary; however, they can greatly affect a patient’s mental or emotional health. For example, after battling cancer or sustaining a burn injury, plastic surgery can make a patient feel whole or more normal again.

The risks of plastic surgery, beyond the ones mentioned above, are that a lot of elective plastic surgeries are relatively new. Any implant or newer procedure, such as the breast implants recalled several years ago, has risks of unexpected outcomes that may lead to severe harm to the patient.

Cardiovascular Surgery Dangers

We all want our hearts to pump the way they’re supposed to, but having any kind of heart surgery can be incredibly risky. Elective cardiovascular surgeries include bypass, angioplasty, and radiofrequency ablation, which prevent heart-related conditions from worsening. The biggest risk with heart surgery is equipment failure and surgical error.

Exploratory Surgery Dangers

Some patients suffer from health conditions that their doctor has difficulty diagnosing. This is where a doctor might recommend exploratory surgery, where a surgeon will use small incisions to go into the patient’s body to look for what could be causing the symptoms.

Colonoscopies are one of the most common exploratory procedures and can help patients and their doctors find signs of colon cancer early on.

Aside from standard surgery risks, exploratory surgeries have an increased risk that the patient may wake up too soon due to not being properly anesthetized.

Replacement Surgery Dangers

The most common elective replacement surgeries are knee, hip, or musculature replacement.

These help patients stay mobile and minimize pain either due to wearing out over time or due to an injury. The dangers of replacement surgeries can lead to severe complications in the patient. Such as an implant failing or becoming loose in the body.

Often, when something goes wrong during or due to a replacement surgery, more surgeries become necessary for the patient’s health, which additionally extends the patient’s overall recovery time.

As you can see, even elective procedures can pose serious risks to patients. It’s important to talk to your doctor and any other medical professional involved in your treatment about all the risks before you begin surgery. Although most doctors are competent in helping their patients maintain good health, dangers are still present, and mistakes do happen.

If you believe a medical mistake occurred during your elective procedure or caused new or worsening health issues afterward, you should speak with a Charleston medical malpractice lawyer right away.

Even knowing the expected risks, your surgery should make you healthier, not cause you more or new problems.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice. Viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
© 2024 DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC | All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Legal InSites - Law Firm Digital Marketing