(This is the second in a two-part series on surgery. Last week we discussed surgeons and health care facilities. This week we'll cover the surgery itself.)

I view surgery as the last possible solution for a health problem. I'm sure most of you agree.

It's best to look into alternatives such as medicines, treatments, lifestyle changes and watchful waiting before undergoing anesthesia and scalpel work.

Do your research before surgery. One area of study should be laparoscopy. In this type of surgery, small cuts are used instead of a large incision. These incisions allow the surgeon to insert a laparoscope a thin tube with a camera into the body. Then the surgeon use small tools.

There are many advantages to this type of surgery. It can allow you to have a procedure in the morning and go home the same day. Some laparoscopies require you stay one night in the hospital. Usually, you will recover from this type of surgery more quickly. And, instead of a large scar, you will have only a few small scars.

If you are faced with the prospect of surgery, you should have questions. Here is a list of significant questions you can ask you doctor before the surgery:

Why do I need the operation?

Do I need it now, or can it wait?

What happens if I don't have the operation?

What are the benefits of having the operation?

How long will the benefits last?

What are the risks of having the operation?

Are there alternatives to surgery?

How will the surgery affect my quality of life?

Where can I get a second opinion?

What experience do you have performing this surgery?

Where will the operation be done?

Will I have to stay overnight in the hospital?

Is it possible to have same-day surgery as an out-patient?

What kind of anesthesia will I need?

What are the side effects and risks of having anesthesia?

How long will it take me to recover?

Will I be in pain? How long will the pain last?

When will I be able to go home after the surgery?

What will the recovery be like?

Can you draw a diagram and explain how you do the surgery?

Can you please mark the part of my body you will operate on?

Is there anything else I should know about this surgery?

There are steps you can take to make your surgical experience less taxing.

Before surgery, arrange for home health care that you may need; this may include medical equipment, prescription drugs and a visiting nurse. Line up someone to drive you home and stay with you for the first 24-hours after surgery.

When you go to have your surgery, leave your jewelry at home, don't wear makeup or contact lenses.

Always carry the following information with you:

your doctor's name and phone number

family names and phone numbers

ongoing medical problems

medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs

allergies to medicines

health insurance information and policy numbers

Make copies of this information to keep in your wallet and glove compartment of your car just in case you need emergency care.

The Times News, Inc., and affiliates (TIMES NEWS) do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the author do not necessarily state or reflect those of the TIMES NEWS. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.