Do You Really Need or Want that Surgery?


All of life involves managing risk versus rewards – of both action and inaction.

This certainly includes all medical procedures. 

Even the least risky medical procedure is never 100% safe. Bandaids are made to be as hypoallergenic as possible for all skin types. Yet, maybe you’re the one in one in a trillion person who’ll have an adverse reaction to the plastic in a bandaid.

But that’s much less than the risk of getting infected through an open wound, so you use a bandaid or other dressing to keep the wound closed and protected.

Weighing risk versus reward is most important for surgical procedures.

The goal here is NOT to encourage you to refuse surgical interventions you need – it’s to encourage you to think very hard before you go under anesthesia unnecessarily.


Check Out Madonna

The 65-year-old singer showed off her new “look” earlier this year at the Grammy’s. Reactions were . . . sad.

According to various cosmetic surgery experts, she’s had at least a face lift and a nose job. Looking through pictures of the star since the early 80’s, they find evidence she’s had many procedures.

Yet, her fans say her face looks “painful.” And she doesn’t even begin to look like herself – at least, that is, how she used to look.

She now looks nothing like you probably remember her.


Risks of Surgery

Of course, total risk depends a lot on the procedure. The more invasive, the riskier.

However, just going under anesthesia (for any reason) has a death rate of around one in 100,000.


UK Survey on Plastic Surgery

The Medical Accident Group polled 2,638 recipients of plastic surgery within the past five years, and the results are probably not what they expected or wanted to hear.

A full 65% – almost two out of three – people said they regretted having the surgery. Only 28% said they were “very happy” with the results.

83% said they would never have plastic surgery again.


The most common types of plastic surgery were:

* Breast augmentation

* Rhinoplasty

* Eyelid surgery

* Liposuction


The most common reasons for regretting it were:

* The results didn’t match their expectations

* The financial expense

* Complications

* Side effects not fully explained

* Feeling less comfortable than before the surgery

What’s also interesting is that only 32% of the respondents admitted to performing serious research on the procedure before actually having it. 59% said they relied on their doctor. 9% said they relied on people who’d already gotten the procedure.

Do your homework! Of course, that should include listening to what your doctor says. And finding other recipients – but don’t go by what just one person says, either. Get as many informed opinions as possible.


Other Major Surgeries

Knee replacement surgery is fairly common among older people. It’s certainly not cosmetic surgery. It’s generally for people with arthritis in their knee. 

It’s “unnecessary” surgery in the sense you don’t die if you don’t have it. It’s not a quadruple bypass operation. It’s basically an admission by the medical community they don’t know how to actually cure arthritis . . . so they just cut the joint out and replace it with aluminum and stainless steel.

It removes the pain by replacing the joint with nerveless metal so there’re no nerves. The recovery period is quite painful, and it takes a few months at least to get over it. 


My mother had it in both knees. Afterward, I never noticed she could walk any faster, but at least her knees didn’t hurt any more. She never expressed any regret about it to me.

It did make flying more difficult because she couldn’t go through the regular x-ray machines at airport TSA checkpoints. She needed an agent to search her separately with a wand.

Polls and surveys of many recipients of knee replacement surgery have found a regret rate of from 6% to 30%. 


In a Swedish study, they asked 348 recipients of knee surgery how they felt a year later. 18% expressed discontent.

Their reasons weren’t always specific and clear. Some were dissatisfied by the lack of support. Some still had pain and stiffness. Some could no longer perform physical acts that gave them pleasure or carry out their routine daily activities.

“We do too many knee replacements,” said James Rickert, President of the Society for Patient-Centered Orthopedics. 


For another thing, these implants don’t last forever. The newer ones should last 20 years, but, these days, many people getting them are in their 60’s and even 50s. Many of them will still be around in 20 years when the implant can loosen and detach from the bone – which causes pain.

Plastic from the implant slowly deteriorates, causing inflammation.

The wear and tear can break your knee.


Yet the second operation is more difficult than the first because of leftover scar tissue and bone cement from the first procedure.

Total hip replacement surgery is similar to knee replacement, and has the basic intent of relieving joint pain. Decision regret (DR) is higher among the knee replacement recipients than hip replacement recipients.

Yet, some people who get those surgeries say their only regret is not doing it sooner.


Prevention Beats Surgery

When a doctor says you need a quadruple bypass, don’t argue.

By the time a doctor says you need a quadruple bypass, you need it.


That’s why I’m begging you now:

* Eat a healthy diet

* Get regular moderate exercise

* Sleep 7-9 hours every night

* Don’t smoke

* Manage your stress

So you don’t ever need that quadruple bypass. 

Say “No” to quadruple bypass surgery NOW, before you actually require it.


Do Lots of Research

Unless you’re very clear in your mind, err on the side of caution for cosmetic procedures.

If a serious medical issue is involved, still do your research.

If it’s immediately medically necessary, do what your doctor says.

But if you aren’t that bad off yet, live so you can avoid medically necessary operations.