Oral and maxillofacial surgeons undergo extensive education and surgical training to ensure they will be well prepared to answer your questions on conditions affecting your face, mouth and jaws.
Whether or not to have surgery is a big decision. No matter how much advice you get, ultimately the decision is yours. Asking your surgeon plenty of questions can help guide you towards making the right decision.
What type of surgery are you recommending and why?
It is important to understand exactly what procedure is being recommended by your surgeon, ask questions about your diagnosis and the treatment being proposed.
Do I really need this surgery?
It’s a good idea to know exactly how the surgery might help you. Be clear about what the benefits might be. Check how long the benefits should last. For many types of surgery, they should last a lifetime. For other types the benefits might be short-lived. Ask what the chances of success are, and typical success rates.
What are the risks of surgery?
All surgery has risks. There are risks that are associated with the anaesthetic you will have. There are also the general risks of surgery, such as bleeding from the wound, while each type of surgery also has its own specific risks. You could ask your surgeon, what could go wrong? How often do these issues arise?
What happens if I don’t do anything?
Is your condition likely to get better or worse if you don’t have the surgery?
Are there any non-surgical treatment options?
Surgery is not always the first step for the treatment of some Oral and Maxillofacial conditions. Everyone is different, so ask your surgeon if there are alternatives to surgery and what might happen if you do nothing.
What are the costs?
Surgery and the time spent recovering from it, costs money. Ask your surgeon the following questions;
- How much will you pay overall, to the surgeon, to the anaesthetist, to the hospital?
- If your surgery is covered by Medicare, how much will Medicare pay? What will be your out of pocket costs?
- The Australian Medical Association has a range of excellent resources to assist patients considering surgery. Questions to ask your doctor about costs before you go to hospital.
Choosing your surgeon
It can be difficult to choose a surgeon. You want to find a person who has all of the technical skills you need and who listens well and talks about your concerns. You could ask your surgeon what experience they have doing this surgery. Your referrer (usually your GP or Dentist) will be able to guide you in selecting an appropriately qualified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon.
Questions relating to surgery
What do I need to do to prepare?
Depending on the procedure, patients may need to skip a meal or avoid eating and drinking entirely for a specified number of hours beforehand. You may also need to have blood samples taken and could be asked to avoid specific medications. Some patients may need to consult with their regular GP as well.
What type of anaesthesia will be used?
Your surgeon can advise whether anaesthesia will be administered as a local, regional or general anesthesia and why this type of anaesthesia is recommended for your procedure. If a general anaesthetic is required then a specialist anaesthetist will be involved in your care.
What can I expect during recovery?
What will recovery be like?
There is a recovery period after all surgery. This can range from a few days to several months, depending on your age, condition, health and type of surgery. It will be important to follow you surgeon’s advice carefully. So that you can prepare, you could ask your surgeon;
- How long will it take to recover from surgery?
- What will the rehabilitation involve?
- How should I look after myself at home?
What should I expect within the 24 hours of surgery? What symptoms should I be looking for?
It’s important to know what to expect immediately after surgery and even routine surgery can require special care. Some potential warning signs that you may need additional care include fever, bleeding, unexpected swelling, or pain that exceeds expected levels or goes on for longer than your surgeon indicated.
What limitations will I have after surgery and for how long?
After many surgeries, it’s recommended to have a gradual return to everyday life – with limitations on eating, drinking and physical exercise. Even the most commonplace surgery can have special requirements. Be sure to ask your surgeon about your recovery timelines.
- Healthdirect. www.healthdirect.gov.au
Locate an OMS in your area
Ready for the next step? Find an ANZAOMS member in your area within Australia and New Zealand today.
Is oral and maxillofacial surgery right for you?
We’ve put together a handy list of questions for you to discuss with your surgeon.