7 Elective Surgeries You Won't Be Having Anytime Soon

Many cosmetic surgeries won't be readily available after the coronavirus.

COVID-19 has quickly filled up hospital beds across the globe. So, with this shortage of space, doctors have had to put some medical procedures on the back burner. Many surgeries that were previously planned and not emergency—also known as elective surgeries—have been postponed to help keep hospital space open for coronavirus patients.

But as a handful of states start to open back up and lift lockdown orders, a few elective surgeries are being rescheduled. However, a number of hospitals, like St. Louis University Hospital, are reintroducing elective surgeries on ranking systems that prioritize certain procedures over others. When it comes to surgeries you might not be able to have anytime soon, these are the elective surgeries that fall lower on most lists. And for more ways life will be different after COVID-19, check out the 5 Things You'll Never See at Your Doctor's Office After Coronavirus.


Doctor making anthropometry for pretty lady while using calipers before surgery

Nose jobs, medically known as rhinoplasties, are one of the surgeries doctors are hesitant to bring back, says Lisa Cassileth, MD, founder of Cassileth Plastic Surgery Center. Cassileth says this is because this surgery can "aerosolize the virus and cause it to be released into the air." This, in return, presents the coronavirus in high concentrations and can affect surgeons and nurses. And for more about the medical field right now, check out these 7 Easy Ways to Support Health Care Workers During COVID-19.


close up shot of men showing fat in his body.

Abdominoplasty is more commonly known as a "tummy tuck." And while select elective surgeries may be making a comeback sooner than later, this is not one them, says board certified plastic surgeon Alexis Parcells, MD. Why? Parcells says this procedure "routinely carries a higher risk of blood clots." And increased blood clotting is already a potential health risk for COVID-19 patients. For more about your health and coronavirus, check out the 7 Ways Being in Quarantine Has Been Bad for Your Health.

Cataract surgeries

Young men having an eye exam at ophthalmologist's office.

Yuna Rapoport, MD, founder of Manhattan Eye in New York City, says despite being one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States every year, cataract surgery is still being largely postponed across the country. She says this is because there are "not very high risks in waiting several months and postponing the cases." However, due to how many people get this surgery every year, she says most patients will have to wait even longer to get an available spot when this elective surgery starts taking place again due to a "backlog of patients."

Combined cosmetic surgeries

Professional aesthetic medicine surgeon operating with scalpel

A lot of people elect to have several procedures done at the same time when having cosmetic surgeries. An example of this is the "mommy makeover," which includes things like a tummy tuck and a breast lift to restore or enhance a woman's body after childbirth. However, Parcells says it's highly unlikely you'll be able to have combined cosmetic surgeries anytime soon. Your surgeons may postpone your entire surgery plan altogether, or they'll break up the procedures and stage them "several months apart to decrease total operative time and a patient's risk of complications."

Joint replacements

man with hip pain holding his back

Unfortunately, people will continue to live with hip, knee, and shoulder pain in the months to come, as joint replacements will likely continue to be postponed, says orthopedic surgeon Daniel Paull, MD, founder of Easy Orthopedics.

"[Many joint replacements] use critical PPE [personal protective equipment] and may result in unnecessary risks to patients and staff for spread of coronavirus," he explains. "I think that in the field of orthopedics, elective surgeries that normally require hospitalization will take longer to come back. Patients that get these done are usually on the older side and may not want to risk an unnecessary trip to the hospital."

Mastectomy reconstruction

Breast cancer surgery scars by partial mastectomy. With effect filter.

Women undergo mastectomy reconstruction in order to rebuild the shape and look of their breasts after having a mastectomy to treat or prevent breast cancer. However, Cassileth says most breast reconstructions have been postponed, even if they are part of a mastectomy.

"Hospitals did allow for mastectomy with no reconstruction during the height of the upward peak of cases," she says. "So you have a patient already undergoing mastectomy, under anesthesia, PPE is opened and used, risk of surgery undertaken, but they prevent a plastic surgeon coming in and giving her a 'normal looking' breast."

Early-stage cancer surgeries

Old man patient hand in hospital

Every elective surgery performed is up to the digression of the staff at a specific medical center. However, some hospitals may consider continuing to postpone early-stage cancer surgeries, says Scott A. Cunneen, MD, director of metabolic and bariatric surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and author of Weighty Issues.

"Some early-stage cancer surgeries [will be postponed] if it's determined that the patient can start chemo first and benefit by waiting a little while until the threat of the virus diminishes," he explains. "Elective surgeries will no doubt be rescheduled in waves, with all patients being tested first, and scheduled according to their level of urgency and anticipated length of hospital stay." And for more details about COVID-19, check out the 25 Coronavirus Facts You Should Know by Now.

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