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Conditions, Injuires, Treatments / 30 April 2020

When Do You Need a Surgical Second Opinion

Whether you have musculoskeletal pain or other chronic conditions, you want a solution to restore your lifestyle. When your doctor recommends surgery, it’s natural to stop and consider if the procedure is the best option possible. Surgery requires a significant time and financial commitment, and you want to make sure your outcome is worth this investment.

A surgical second opinion can help confirm your surgery decision or provide a more appropriate alternative. In this guide, we’ll discuss when and how you might seek a second consultation before having surgery.

When to Get a Second Opinion

Regardless of the surgery you’re considering, getting a second opinion can help you ensure whether a specific procedure is right for your condition. Even if you feel good about what your surgeon suggests, a second opinion can help you to feel informed and confident about your decision.

Other indicators that you should get a second opinion include:

  • Your goals do not align with the surgeon’s goals: You and your surgeon should work as a team to develop a plan you feel comfortable with. If you want to try non-surgical alternatives first, but your surgeon insists surgery is the only option, consider talking to another professional.
  • You feel uneasy about your surgeon choice: You have a right to feel good about your decision. If a surgeon isn’t answering your questions properly or you are unsure about their experience with a procedure, consider a second opinion.

How to Get a Second Opinion

When you’ve decided to pursue a second opinion, you’ll need to find another physician to talk to. Your initial surgeon may have recommendations for other professionals, or you can conduct research online. After you’ve found an individual you want to meet, you can take the following steps:

  1. Schedule a consultation: Make sure you have your scans and images in hand  may need to arrange to have relevant scans, records or x-rays transferred to the new surgeon, so they can review your case in advance.
  2. Meet and discuss your options: Be sure to ask any questions you have about the surgery, alternative options and the surgeon’s experience.
  3. Regroup and decide: If the second surgeon you meet confirms the initial surgery plans, you can feel confident that the course of action is appropriate. If the second physician gives a conflicting diagnosis, you may want to get a third opinion. If surgery is the best option, you can pursue the procedure with the surgeon of your choice.

Surgical Second Opinion FAQs

You may have additional uncertainties about getting a surgical second opinion. The following questions provide information you may find valuable before seeking a second consultation:

Should You Always Get a Second Opinion Before Surgery?

A second opinion isn’t required, but it is considered good medical practice. The only time a second opinion is not advised is if you or another individual require life-saving emergency surgery.

Do Doctors Get Mad When You Get a Second Opinion?

Many doctors encourage second opinions, as they can help confirm a crucial diagnosis. It is unprofessional for your doctor or surgeon to feel offended if you ask for a second opinion. You have a right to consider your options for any big decision, including surgery.

What Questions Should I Ask in a Second Opinion?

When you meet with a second surgeon, consider asking the following questions:

  • Is this surgery the best course of action?
  • Is this surgical method the best option for my situation?
  • Are there alternative treatment methods you would recommend for me?
  • What are the risks associated with this surgery?
  • What can happen if I don’t have this surgery?
  • How many times have you done this surgery?
  • What are your patients’ outcomes for this surgery?
  • What kind of fees are involved? — if the surgeon is not an in-network provider

Be sure to include any other unanswered questions you have about the procedure, technique or your options.

Does Insurance Pay for a Second Opinion?

Many insurance policies will pay for a second opinion, and some may even require it. If you have Medicare Part B, your coverage should help pay for a second opinion for medically necessary surgeries. Check with your insurance to see what your policy requires and covers.

Misconceptions About Second Opinions

Second opinions are valuable, but they may be misconstrued by the following myths:

  • Second opinions are not important: For nearly every major life decision, you evaluate your options to make the best choice. Whether you’re buying a home, car or even a couch, you check multiple retailers until you find what you love. Your body impacts you more than any of the aforementioned decisions, so getting a second opinion is extremely worthwhile.
  • Second opinions are not worth the effort: When you’re already in pain, getting a second opinion may feel like putting off your relief. However, the effort you put into a second opinion can help you achieve better long-term results. Your health is at stake, your insurance may require a second opinion and it may not be as difficult as you think — especially if you consult with a doctor in the same network.
  • You have to tell your surgeons you’re seeking a second opinion: If you’re uncomfortable with telling your surgeon you want a second opinion, you are not obligated to inform them. Second opinions are a sound medical practice, and medical professionals should not react negatively to your request.

How Do I Find a Doctor for a Second Opinion?

There are a few ways to find candidates for your second opinion consultation. If you trust your initial surgeon and want a second opinion as a precaution, you can ask them for surgeon recommendations. You are not obligated to take these suggestions, but they may be a helpful starting point.

You can narrow down any online research by finding surgeons that accept your insurance first. Be sure to search for each candidate on your state’s medical board website. These sites should show any disciplinary action or licensing red flags for the candidates to help narrow the pool further.

If possible, it can be beneficial to get personal surgeon recommendations from individuals who have had the same procedure you’re considering. Talking to others to hear about their experience can be a great way to feel confident in your decision to meet with a particular surgeon.

Get Better Faster With NJ Spine and Wellness

When you’re not sure if surgery is right for you, NJ Spine and Wellness can help. We are committed to helping you treat your musculoskeletal pain and can assist you with choosing from a variety of conservative, non-surgical methods. Our team of professionals can create an individualized treatment plan that is tailored to your specific goals and expectations. Our multidisciplinary team also includes specialty surgeons who are available for first or second opinions on a variety of surgical treatments, from spinal surgery to shoulder, knee, foot or ankle surgery.

We care about providing the options you desire, and our program can give you peace of mind about choosing surgery after targeted non-surgical intervention. For more information about how you can get better faster, book an appointment today.

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