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I’ve Been Told I Need Elective Surgery. Should I Get A Second Opinion?

Choosing to go ahead with surgery is a big and important decision. We need to feel confident that this is the right course of action for ourselves and our health – and that the surgery will fulfil our goals, whether it’s a joint replacement surgery or a cosmetic procedure like shaving down a bunion. This can leave many people spiralling down a “Google rabbit hole” after their appointments, especially if the option of (or recommendation for) surgery has come unexpectedly. 

They say that we’ll always be able to find something online that validates our fears, concerns, beliefs or hopes. This is exactly what most people get when they start searching online for more information about a prospective surgery: everything from worst-case scenarios, adverse reactions and complications, to best-case scenarios that create unrealistic expectations, to “relatable” stories and discussion where the person starts with a very different set of circumstances and so their outcomes are simply incomparable, given that surgical outcomes are very person-specific. 

While it’s the job of your health provider to answer all of your questions related to a medical procedure and provide you with all of your alternative treatment options outside of surgery, if you don’t feel 100% confident about your decision, should you get a second opinion?


Always Get A Second Opinion If You’re Not 100% Confident In Your Surgery Decision

While it may feel like going against the grain to ‘branch out’ and seek a second opinion, it’s actually very common. Growing up in an age of endless medical television dramas where most surgeries are an “emergency” and must be done urgently to save a life with little discussion, it can feel unnatural to say “thank you for the information, I need to think about this” – but there are very big differences between emergency surgeries and elective surgeries or procedures that you have complete control over – not to mention that you also foot the bill for most of the time. 

Here are some circumstances where many people choose to obtain a second opinion:


  1. You have unanswered questions, fears or concerns

They say that information is power, and when it comes to surgery, the only way for many people to feel completely confident going into your procedure is by ensuring all of your questions have been answered, and your fears or concerns have been addressed. So if your appointment with your last provider has still left you with questions, doubts, or hasn’t addressed your concerns, this is a good indicator to seek a second opinion. 

Every person’s communication style can vary, and while some people want to put their full trust into the experience and knowledge of their health professional and have them guide their course of treatment without going into the minor details, others need more time and comprehensive communication to help them feel fully informed and address their worries. If your communication style isn’t matching your original health professional – that’s okay. Write down all of your questions and thoughts, attend your second opinion appointment, and ensure you leave having asked everything you weren’t clear on.


  1. You want to know more about alternative treatment options

Almost certainly, most people will have had an experience where they discuss a treatment path with their health provider, only to come home and have friends and family members chime in about how they went with an alternative option and the outcomes they experienced. Even if you’ve spent the last hour discussing the details of your surgical plan and have booked the date, it is never too late to learn more about your alternative treatment options (whether they’re non-surgical or a different surgical technique) and go back to the drawing board about what is best for you. You being happy with your choice of treatment is just as important for your health provider and they’ll understand if you decide to change treatments or pursue care elsewhere.


  1. You want a surgeon or medical professional with more experience in your procedure

If learning more about your procedure after you’ve made it home has left you feeling that you’d rather see a ‘specialist’ over a general surgeon, or if the procedure is something like an ingrown nail surgery and you’d rather see a podiatrist that specialises in ingrown nail care instead of your GP, this is a very good reason to seek a second opinion.

Having your second opinion with the ‘specialist’ will also allow you to ask questions about how their services compare – something you may not have thought of asking in your first appointment. Many people feel more confident when they know they’re seeing a provider with the right area of speciality and a high level of experience, while others may be left with the confidence of knowing that their original provider was the right choice.


  1. You feel like you committed to the surgery too quickly

Learning about a treatment option to solve a new or ongoing problem can feel exciting, and it’s easy to start thinking about the possibilities – like walking without pain, or having that cosmetic enhancement – that lead you to quickly commit without having adequate time to think and process. Instead of feeling torn up inside when you’re home about what to do or what you’re going to say to your health provider, seek a second opinion where you can discuss all of the options and what each option looks like – especially if surgery isn’t the only way to get those same outcomes. This way, if you choose to proceed with the surgery, you’ll do so feeling confident and happy, and not feeling pressured into doing it by your own commitment – your surgeon will completely understand if you change your mind!


  1. You’ve remembered some information that may affect your surgery suitability

If you’ve ever come home from an appointment and remembered something you forgot to mention to your practitioner – something that could be important – you’re absolutely not alone. If you’re worried that your current circumstances may mean that either the procedure isn’t in your best interest right now – or that you may not be as well suited as you originally thought – this is a very good reason to seek a second opinion and discuss your concerns. 


  1. You weren’t aware of the financial aspect of the procedure when discussing your options

It’s very easy to get excited about a procedure when you don’t know the costs – and it’s often not until the very end of an appointment that you learn about the cost breakdown. If the reality of the costs makes it unaffordable for you right now, this is a very good reason to seek a second opinion to learn about alternative options and their upfront costs. 

You may also find that the clinic that you choose for your second appointment has alternative payment methods that may make your procedure affordable – such as offering HealthNow – New Zealand’s only health and medical buy-now-pay-later payment option that lets you split the cost of each appointment over up to twelve weeks with no fees or interest. 


HealthNow: Making Healthcare More Accessible

HealthNow is accessed as an intuitive app on your smartphone, and it’s free to download and set up an account. When it comes time to pay for the appointment, you select over how many weeks you’d like to divide the cost of your bill. If your procedure is billed at various appointments throughout the month, you’re able to use this feature at every appointment. 

While you only pay a fraction of the cost on the day, the clinic gets paid in full on the same day by HealthNow, meaning your health providers aren’t out of pocket or waiting for payment. You can also feel confident knowing that HealthNow meets a higher level of regulatory compliance to ensure that it operates with social responsibility in the healthcare sector. HealthNow charges no fees or interest to health consumers for its regular use.


Feel Confident In Your Health Choices, Get Your Second Opinion

HealthNow is currently being used across medical centres, screening facilities and a range of other health services across New Zealand. This means you can also use it to pay for the cost of your second opinion appointment, allowing you to take greater control of your health.

Register free today by downloading the app, and check out HealthNow’s full benefits and features on their website, including a health wallet to store funds set aside for health services that can be contributed to by others including your employer.


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