Gentlemen: 5 Qualities To Look For in Your Vasectomy Surgeon
Most men tend to view the vasectomy as a standard, everyday procedure easily performed by any urologist. Unfortunately in some cases, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is only in the last few months that the American Urological Association (AUA), the organization that promotes high standards for urological care through the formulation of policies that urologists are to follow, released expert-approved guidelines for vasectomy procedures. For patients, this means that a wide disparity remains among each surgeon’s approach, technique, skill level and expertise when it comes to the vasectomy procedure. If you or someone you know is considering a vasectomy and want to find out what to look for in the surgeon you’re considering, I offer below some important tips on the qualities you want to find in him or her.
Preference For In-Person Consultation–As part of the AUA’s guidelines, it is now recommended that an in-person consultation be conducted with patients interested in vasectomy before the procedure is scheduled. This is with good reason. When face to face, the patient can get a sense of the surgeon’s overall demeanor. But more importantly, there are no distractions. No distractions means the patient and the physician can have a focused, candid dialogue. When in person consultations aren’t feasible, a telephone conversation may be indicated. But beware of the surgeon or clinic who prefers them over an in-person meeting. Men tend to have more confidence and as a result, perhaps better outcomes, when they’ve first met and spoken candidly face-to-face with the surgeon they choose to perform their vasectomy.
Use of Local Anesthesia— Some men may think that being completely sedated during a vasectomy is desirable and because of this, some practices still perform vasectomies under general anesthesia. But the AUA experts have now indicated that local anesthesia should be the preferred method of sedation during a vasectomy procedure. Why? There is a host of reasons but an important one to note is the fact that general anesthesia puts patients at greater risk of complications, no matter the procedure. Also, technology and significant progress in the field of anesthesia now allow surgeons the ability to inject anesthetic using a no-needle, pressure injection technique through the skin.
Minimally-Invasive Surgical Approach–The goal with any surgical procedure today is to perform it successfully using the least invasive techniques possible. Vasectomies are included in this rationale and the AUA’s new guidelines now cover the topic. Finding a surgeon who uses a no-scalpel approach is important. This technique was developed in China more than 20 years ago and has become the Gold Standard for the performance of vasectomies in the United States. What does it mean for patients? The same permanent contraception result but with less pain, faster recovery, reduced blood loss and complication rates over conventional vasectomy procedures.
True Expertise–Much like a family practice physician can provide a global assessment of overall health, a general urologist tends to provide a global assessment and approach to overall urologic health. But when it comes to vasectomy procedures, studies have shown that patients achieve better outcomes and have less complications when their procedures are performed by a surgeon who specializes only in the treatment of conditions affecting the scrotum and vas.
Skill Level–When patients have found a surgeon who meets the above qualifications, an important factor to consider is their level of skill. Men considering vasectomies should feel comfortable asking questions of the surgeons they’re considering. How many minimally-invasive vasectomies has the surgeon performed? Where was the surgeon trained? Has the surgeon trained other surgeons in the techniques he or she performs? Does the surgeon seem to be up-to-date on the latest advances and information when it comes to vasectomies? All of these questions should lead the patient, ideally, to choosing a surgeon who is a pioneer in vasectomy surgery–someone who has performed numerous procedures over a number of years with a successful track record and industry accolades. Take caution in choosing a physician who doesn’t seem experienced and is just now trying to conform his practice to the AUA’s new guidelines. The best surgeons out there have been performing vasectomies the right way for patients for decades. Patients should concentrate their search on those surgeons.
You can find a full-text copy of the AUA’s Vasectomy Guidelines here: http://www.auanet.org/content/media/vasectomy.pdf