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Having minor surgery

Minor surgical procedures generally take a short time to perform and usually require only local anaesthesia.

Having minor surgery
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Minor surgical procedures are those that can be done quickly, usually with only a local anaesthetic (see Having a local anaesthetic). Examples of these procedures include removal of moles, drainage of cysts or abscesses, and vasectomy. Most minor surgical procedures involve instruments. However, in some situations no instruments are needed, such as in the manipulation of a simple fracture.

Minor surgery is usually carried out in hospital as a day case or on an out-patient basis, or your doctor may carry out the procedure in his or her surgery.

What does minor surgery involve?

A minor operation that involves little blood loss requires only minimal preparation when performed on a healthy individual. The doctor will usually discuss the procedure with you, carry out a brief physical examination, and ask you to sign a consent form.

You may be given a local anaesthetic, usually by injection. Anaesthetic creams and sprays can also be used, but these are much less effective than injected anaesthetics. However, they may be used to numb the skin before giving a local anaesthetic injection to a child.

The doctor then scrubs up, puts on a sterile gown and mask, and uses an antiseptic liquid to clean the part of your body that requires surgery. The affected area will then be covered with a sterile drape to prevent bacteria on the surrounding skin from entering the wound. Once the skin around the affected area is clean and anaesthetized, the doctor carries out the procedure. Some procedures involve cutting through the skin and leave a wound, which is closed after surgery using stitches (sutures), tape, staples, or glue (see Rejoining tissue). Other procedures do not leave a wound, and the area may simply be covered with a light gauze or bandage.

What happens after surgery?

If there is a wound, your doctor or a nurse will give you instructions on how to look after it in order to keep it clean and free of infection until it has healed.

When the local anaesthetic wears off, you may need to take painkillers to relieve any discomfort and a course of antibiotics to prevent infection. Your doctor will prescribe these drugs for you if necessary.

After some minor procedures, you may feel uncomfortable or a little faint, and you may need someone to take you home. You will probably be given a follow-up appointment so that the doctor can check that the procedure has been successful and that the wound is healing. If you have stitches, they may need to be removed, but some types of stitch dissolve on their own after several days.

Posted 09.09.2010

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