A scalpel is a small, sharp knife used in surgery to make incisions.
Elective surgery is a type of surgery that may or may not be medically necessary, but can be scheduled in advance because it is not urgent. It’s important to realize that elective is not the same as optional, and just because a procedure isn’t time-sensitive doesn’t mean it can be postponed indefinitely. People usually think of plastic surgery when they hear about elective surgery, but organ donations, mastectomies, and tonsillectomies can all be elective surgeries in varying degrees of urgency. These procedures are sometimes very serious and risky and, as the patient has time to anticipate the surgery, it can be a cause of great anxiety.
A woman with a family history of breast cancer may choose to have a mastectomy as a preventive measure.
Most surgeries performed are elective surgeries that involve planning and scheduling the surgery in advance. When surgery can be scheduled in advance, but absolutely must be done to preserve the patient’s life, the procedure is considered semi-elective. These types of procedures are contrasted with urgent and emergency surgeries, which should be done as soon as possible. Elective surgery is performed on many different parts of the body and to correct many different disorders, but all these surgeries have a common lack of urgency.
Plastic surgery can improve the appearance of almost any part of the body.
Many of the different surgeries considered in this category can make patients more comfortable or can prevent problems later on. For example, hemorrhoid surgery is usually elective, but it can prevent severe pain and bleeding, as well as risks of complications. Some surgeries of this type can even reduce the risk of cancer later in life, as is the case with preemptive mastectomies in women with a family history of breast cancer.
Another type of elective surgery includes procedures done purely for subjective aesthetic reasons. Plastic surgery can improve the appearance of almost any part of the body and may involve restructuring the face, increasing breast size, or reducing fat. Elective dental surgery is also sometimes considered cosmetic surgery.
Sometimes a healthy person may have elective surgery to help someone else, such as organ donation. This procedure may be urgent from the sick patient’s point of view. Even so, it is typically considered elective for the healthy patient.
It is important to remember that elective surgeries are still dangerous operations and that complications can arise even in relatively simple procedures. While most procedures are safe and uneventful, some may have unforeseen problems that can result in paralysis, permanent nerve damage, or even death. For these reasons, surgery is often treated as a last resort, and frivolous plastic surgery is not considered wise.