What is an Elective Procedure?

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This past year, you may have heard the term “elective procedure” used more than usual. This is because many hospitals have canceled elective medical procedures due to overcrowding, staffing issues, and COVID-19 related safety concerns. Understandably, many people are confused by the question, what is an elective procedure?

An elective procedure is one intended to improve your quality of life but is not considered urgent. It can usually be safely scheduled in advance. While elective procedures can sometimes be superficial in nature, they can often relate to important health issues. We will discuss some examples of these in more detail below.

An emergency or non-elective procedure, on the other hand, involves an immediate, possibly life-threatening ailment that requires urgent medical attention.

If you have varicose veins and are considering vein treatment, we want you to understand how the term “elective procedure” relates to your care. Although some people think that varicose veins are a non-urgent, cosmetic-only issue, that’s not the case.

Varicose veins can cause a range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms like leg swelling, fatigue, heaviness, itching, and cramping. These symptoms can be severe enough to affect your basic mobility and overall quality of life.

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    Do you wear pants or skirts to cover your bulging, discolored veins?


    Is your sleep interrupted by restless legs or discomfort?


    Have you experienced itching or burning?


    Have your feet become too swollen to wear your boots or shoes comfortably?


    Do you avoid activities that involve standing for long periods of time?


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    Varicose veins can also lead to the development of dangerous health conditions like blood clots and venous ulcers (open, non-healing wounds). One type of blood clot, called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), can become life-threatening and requires immediate intervention.

    At USA Vein Centers, we want you to understand that vein treatment is often considered an essential, non-elective procedure. When this is the case, we don’t want you to wait around to get help.

    Types of Elective Procedures

    Many types of medical treatments and surgeries are considered elective procedures. Some of the most common ones include:

    • Organ donation: Although organ transplantation is important, it is not always an emergency. There may be temporary alternatives available, such as kidney dialysis.
    • Cardiovascular surgery: Angioplasty is a type of surgery that helps treat heart disease symptoms by restoring blood flow through affected arteries. This can be performed as a non-urgent, elective procedure when the involved blockages are not life-threatening.
    • Musculoskeletal surgery: This type of elective procedure includes hip, knee, and other replacement surgeries. Although intended to minimize pain and maximize mobility, these procedures are rarely considered urgent.
    • Exploratory surgery and biopsies: In some cases, doctors may recommend exploratory procedures. Many of these use minimally-invasive endoscopy to examine inside the body and diagnosis or determine further treatment.
    • Infertility treatments: Some women require surgical intervention to improve or restore their fertility. Although fertility can be emotionally devastating, it is not physically life-threatening.
    • Bariatric procedures: These include gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries. They are typically performed when diet and exercise are ineffective and serious, weight-related health issues exist.
    • Hernia repair: Hernia surgery is performed to correct when a part of an internal organ protrudes into an area where it should not.
    • Scoliosis surgery: This elective medical procedure aims to correct and stabilize a severe, abnormal curve of the spine. For some, the spine curvature is great enough that it can damage nearby organs. However, because this condition develops slowly over time, surgery is rarely emergent.
    • Tonsillectomies: Surgical removal of the tonsils is often performed to treat inflammation and infection. A tonsillectomy can also alleviate breathing-related sleep disorders and address rare diseases.
    • Laser eye surgery: This elective procedure can correct various vision problems, which are rarely time-sensitive.
    • Cosmetic sclerotherapy: Sclerotherapy is used to treat some venous conditions, including varicose and spider veins. Note that varicose vein treatment is often considered an essential procedure because venous insufficiency puts you at risk for serious health conditions. However, spider vein treatment that is performed for cosmetic purposes is usually considered elective.
    • Plastic surgery: Although often thought of as cosmetic, plastic surgery is intended to enhance one’s appearance for both superficial and deeper reasons. For example, you may need plastic surgery to reconstruct or replace body parts following injury or illness. Common procedures include facelifts, nose reshaping, breast augmentation, hair transplants, and tummy tucks. These types of procedures can have a profound impact on one’s mental health.

    If you are not sure whether treatment for your venous issues would be considered elective or non-elective, we can help. Our world-class vein specialists can meet with you one-on-one and discuss an appropriate plan of care.

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    Are Elective Procedures Necessary?

    Because many procedures are considered elective, it is easy to assume they are not necessary. Some elective procedures, such as the removal of a mole or wart, are commonly deemed optional. However, even non-essential treatments that don’t affect a patient’s survival can offer significant emotional health benefits.

    Perhaps the most important distinction is that while many elective procedures are performed for medically necessary conditions, they are not immediately life-threatening. In other words, elective procedures are often both important and necessary.

    When it comes to venous issues, our experts at USA Vein Clinics can help determine when to intervene. If your vein symptoms are impacting your ability to perform daily tasks, vein treatment may be considered non-elective. Advanced vein disease, which often involves the presence of skin changes and venous ulcers, may also qualify. If your doctor believes you have an immediate risk for blood clots or venous ulcers, non-elective treatment may also be necessary.

    If you are concerned about when vein treatment is recommended for your individual situation, we suggest consulting with a vein specialist.

    Does Insurance Cover Elective Medical Procedures?

    The answer to whether your elective procedure is covered by health insurance depends on your plan. In general, insurance plans do not cover cosmetic or medically non-essential procedures. In some cases, insurance plans may only cover a portion of the cost.

    Before scheduling an elective procedure, be sure to ask about any copays, coinsurance, or deductibles that apply.

    What to Ask Before Your Elective Procedure

    All medical procedures carry certain risks and benefits, so it is essential to understand which ones apply to you.

    You may want to ask your doctor the following:

    • Will the procedure be performed in a hospital or outpatient center?
    • Will the procedure involve anesthesia?
    • Is there anything I can do in advance to prepare?
    • How long will the procedure take?
    • What is the overall goal of my procedure?
    • What should I expect with my recovery?
    • Are there any alternative treatments to consider?

    Vein Treatment at USA Vein Clinics

    At USA Vein Clinics, we treat many venous conditions with a range of minimally-invasive, office-based procedures. These include Endovenous Laser Treatment, ClariVein, Varithena Foam, Ultrasound-guided Sclerotherapy, and Visual Sclerotherapy.

    Vein treatment is usually considered medically necessary; often, it can’t wait. When left untreated, vein disease can cause a range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms. It can also lead to severe health conditions like blood clots and venous ulcers.

    Our experts are available to help you avoid venous complications and take back control of your life. Most of our treatments take only 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how many veins are affected. Afterward, you can leave immediately and return to most normal activities.

    For your convenience, USA Vein Clinics offers 90 locations nationwide, along with telemedicine consultations. To get started on your essential journey to better vein health, schedule an appointment online today.

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