Two surgeons washing hands prior to elective surgery

What is an elective surgery?

What is an elective surgery, and how are they different from other types of surgeries?

Alejandro Sanz, MD, a surgeon at OSF HealthCare, says elective surgeries are important procedures that can be scheduled in advance.

“Elective surgeries are different from an urgent or emergency surgery. In those, the patient has an immediate, possibly life-threatening issue which requires medical attention.”

What do elective surgeries treat?

Elective surgeries can include cosmetic surgery, like removing a mole or a wart. But they can also treat serious conditions that can affect your quality of life:

Questions about elective procedures?

> Ask your primary care provider

“Elective surgeries are vital to a patient’s health and well-being,” Dr. Sanz said. “Breast cancer surgery like a mastectomy is critical to address, even though it might not qualify as an emergency procedure needing to be done that same day.”

Benefits of elective surgery

list of questions to ask doctor about surgery

Questions to ask before your surgery

Elective surgeries don’t just treat the problem at hand. They also give patients the opportunity to improve their overall health.

“One of the benefits comes in the days or weeks patients use to improve their health before their surgical procedure,” Dr. Sanz said. “I tell patients that a surgery can be a physically demanding experience. So the best time for patients to improve their overall health is before an elective procedure.”

Health improvements Dr. Sanz recommends to patients before surgery include:

  • Reducing bad habits like smoking
  • Exercising more
  • Losing weight
  • Eating healthier foods

“Increased smoking and diabetes can stop healing and could lead to wound complications after surgery,” Dr. Sanz said. “Reducing these risk factors gives patients the best chance of success, with long-term health improvements.”

Who helps with elective surgeries?

A full team of doctors and health care professionals works together for patients undergoing surgery. They’re in constant contact with each other to coordinate care and deliver the best outcomes.

“These teams could include a radiologist, pathologist, nutritionist and any other needed support,” Dr. Sanz said. “This multidisciplinary approach that brings teams together with one goal: giving the patient the best possible health care outcome.”

Last Updated: April 8, 2024

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About Author: Alex Rusciano

Alex Rusciano is a writing coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where he has worked since January 2016. A Michigan native, he is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in journalism. Previously, he worked as a radio news reporter in Iowa and for 89.9-FM WCBU in Peoria.

He lives in Peoria with his wife and their pets. In his free time he likes to read, run and bake. He freely admits that freshly-brewed coffee is his greatest weakness.

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