What Counts as Elective Surgery?
A common misconception is the idea that “elective” surgery refers to any kind of surgery that is not based on medical needs. However, elective surgery refers to any type of surgery that is not an emergency and can be scheduled in advance. Meanwhile, “semi-elective surgery” refers to any type of surgery that needs to be performed based on medical need, but is not an emergency and can be scheduled in advance.
Typically when the layman says “elective surgery,” they are referring to a surgical procedure that is not conducted based on medical need. These procedures may present a wide variety of unique considerations, such as payment options.
Additionally, it is important to bear in mind that this type of surgery does still present risks, and as such, you must consult an accredited medical professional before pursuing any elective surgery.
Cosmetic surgery is a common type of elective surgery that is not based on medical need. Popular cosmetic procedures include:
- Eyelid lift;
- Lip fillers;
- Breast augmentation;
- Buttock lift;
- Jaw, chin, and cheek reshaping;
- Cellulite treatment;
- Hair transplants;
- Botox injections;
- Laser treatment.
While these procedures aren’t always related to a medical need, they can offer both physical and psychological health benefits. For example, a mandibular advancement can relieve the symptoms of sleep apnea or cellulite treatment can improve a person’s self-esteem.
It is important to note that the field of cosmetic surgery is rife with under-qualified medical providers, and it is therefore particularly important to do your research when choosing a cosmetic surgeon.
While eye surgery isn’t always a medical necessity, it can significantly improve your quality of life. The benefits include everything from increased safety (due to improved ability to perceive obstacles) to more enjoyment of your surroundings. Common types of procedures include:
- Lasik surgery: This is a form of laser surgery that is used to treat a variety of conditions that cause vision impairment by reshaping the cornea.
- PRK surgery: This is a type of laser surgery that treats conditions such as astigmatism by reshaping the cornea. During PRK surgery, a layer of the cornea is fully removed, as opposed to the strategy used in Lasik surgery which involves creating a small “flap.”
- Laser Cataract surgery: During cataract surgery, the lens of the eye is removed to discard the obstructive tissue and replace it with a more functional alternative.
- Dry eye treatment: A wide variety of options are available for dry eye treatment, including eye drops, oral prescription drugs, and surgical intervention.
- EVO Visian ICL: An EVO Visian ICL lens is a synthetic lens for the eye that is made of biocompatible materials. It is essentially a permanent contact lens that is surgically implanted.
These procedures can vary in terms of how invasive they are and what the recovery entails.
Weight Loss Surgery
While weight loss surgery is typically not urgent, it can offer a variety of health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health, a reduction in high blood pressure, and relieved pressure on joints. Weight loss surgery can also have a lot of psychological benefits, often related to improved self-esteem and improved self-sufficiency. Common types of weight loss surgery include:
- Lap band surgery;
- Gastric bypass surgery;
- Sleeve gastrectomy.
These types of surgery are often recommended for people that suffer from obesity to improve their health outcomes. However, people with a wide variety of body types may opt to receive one of these procedures.
Reconstructive surgery refers to any kind of surgical procedure that is meant to sculpt or reform an injured or congenitally atypical body part to adjust its appearance or function. Reconstructive surgery can sometimes overlap with cosmetic surgery. Common types of reconstructive surgery include:
- Breast reduction;
- Cleft palate surgery;
- Hand surgery;
- Nerve reconstruction;
- Scar revision;
- Skin grafting;
- Tissue expansion;
- Skin cancer removal.
These surgeries are often pursued as a means to rectify aesthetic or functional concerns related to injuries or congenital abnormalities. In many cases, the benefits of reconstruction will need to be weighed against the potential benefits. Many charities are dedicated to helping people who need or want reconstructive surgery.
Sports Injury Surgeries
Sports injuries can vary widely in terms of severity and impact on a person’s quality of life. Some injuries involving significant trauma may require non-elective, urgent surgical intervention, such as open fractures or severe head trauma. Others may be medically necessary, but non-urgent, such as ACL reconstruction. Meanwhile, some may be a matter of personal preference, such as scar revision.
Common surgical procedures related to sports injury include:
- ACL reconstruction;
- Knee surgery;
- Rotator cuff repair;
- Cartilage restoration;
- Fracture repair;
- Labral tear repair;
- Tendon repair.
Athletes are at higher risk of injury than the general population, and any injury sustained during athletic activities must be carefully diagnosed to determine the most appropriate course of medical intervention.
Furthermore, surgical intervention may pose higher stakes if the athlete intends to return to their sport following their treatment. If the treatment and recovery plans are not approached appropriately, the athlete may find that they are far more likely to sustain the same injury or related injuries in the future.
How Elective Surgery Can Help Patients Long Term
While elective surgery is not urgent, it can still have highly positive long-term outcomes for your health and are typically preventative. For example, weight loss surgery can be used to slow or prevent the progression of diabetes or heart disease, and eye surgery provides an intervention option for vision loss.
However, in many of these cases, it is also important that the patient makes lifestyle changes to further support the goals related to their elective surgery.
Importance of Finding the Right Medical Surgeons for Elective Surgery
Because elective surgery is not urgent, it may not seem as important to choose a highly-qualified specialist. However, elective surgery can still have a significant impact on your long-term physical and mental health. As such, it is always important to weigh your options and ensure that you choose a highly accredited surgeon and healthcare team that has substantial experience with the type of procedure you want.