Patient in a Cast After an Ankle SurgeryIf a podiatrist has recommended surgery to resolve a painful foot or ankle condition, you might be hesitant to schedule the procedure. After all, you have been coping with discomfort and modifying your activities for some time now, so what harm could it do to wait a little longer? There are a number of factors that can impact the timing of elective surgery, and we take a look at some of the health concerns that could play an important role. Of course, your surgeon will discuss these issues with you to help you make the best decision for you, but we offer this information as a starting point.

The Sooner, the Better?

For many people, the younger they are when they have a surgical procedure, the better the outcome is going to be. Problems such as bunions, heel spurs, hammertoes, and neuromas tend to surface when people are in their 40s or 50s. Even if the condition is not seriously affecting your activities and causing too much pain yet, it’s often a good idea to get it taken care of while you are young and active. These kinds of issues do not resolve on their own and are only going to get worse over time. If you delay surgery until the problem becomes unbearable, you risk not being healthy enough to have the procedure, or you face a more difficult recovery because of your age. The challenge for most people in this age bracket is finding time in their busy schedules to fit in the surgery and recovery time, but it could be well worth the effort to avoid problems later on.

Health Conditions That Make Surgery Risky

Even if you are relatively young, you might have a health condition that could complicate even an outpatient procedure. Having one of these health concerns does not mean you can’t have a safe surgical procedure, but it’s important that you work with your doctor to become as healthy as you can before surgery. Problematic conditions include the following:

  • High blood pressure. Hypertension puts patients at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke during and after surgery. Getting your blood pressure to within a normal range (less than 120/80) with medication will make you a better candidate for surgery.
  • Diabetes or pre-diabetes. People with uncontrolled blood sugar (greater than 200 mg/dL) risk infection and wound healing problems after a surgical incision. Controlling diabetes with a doctor’s help is essential for a safe surgical procedure.
  • Heart disease. Patients with coronary artery disease have less blood flow to the heart, which puts them at greater risk of heart attack and stroke during surgery. 
  • Carrying excess weight. Having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 40 increases your chances of a blood clot, infection, blood loss, and complications with anesthesia. Getting to a healthier BMI before scheduling surgery can increase your odds of a successful procedure.
  • Smoking or vaping. Smokers are always at a higher risk of stroke and heart attack, but they can also experience delayed wound healing, infections, and pneumonia after surgery. Contrary to popular opinion, vaping is not any better for you than smoking in this regard.
  • Lung disease. Patients with asthma, COPD, sarcoidosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension can have a more difficult time recovering from surgery and are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia.

Some of these conditions are within your control, and it’s a good idea to manage them and get as healthy as you can before undergoing any type of surgery. Conditions such as heart and lung disease can be managed with your primary care doctor to ensure a safe surgical procedure.

Discuss Your Health Concerns With Our Team

If podiatric surgery is recommended for you, the skilled podiatry team at Northwest Extremity Specialists will help you determine the best time to have the procedure. We will evaluate your overall health and make sure you are at your healthiest to ensure the best possible outcome. Call us today at 503-245-2420 to make an appointment in the Portland-area office closest to you.