Frequently Asked Questions about Surgery

If you or a family member is scheduled for surgery, you are sure to have many questions about what to expect. Read the questions below for information you want and need. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact us at 413-584-4637.

What do “minimally invasive” and “tissue-sparing” mean?

Minimally invasive refers to surgical techniques that cause as little injury as possible while achieving the necessary medical result. Similarly, tissue-sparing means the technique aims to keep surrounding bone, muscle, skin, and other tissues intact. Instead of the conventional long incision of “open” surgery, surgeons make several small incisions, using special precise instruments to perform the minimally invasive procedure. Laparoscopy, which involves the insertion of an endoscope (miniature camera) into the body through the incisions, is a common minimally invasive method.

Our surgical team is highly experienced in both laparoscopic and robotic techniques. Dr. Michaelson is the Chief of  the Department of Surgery at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Click here to read more about Cooley Dickinson’s Kittredge Surgery Center.

What are the benefits of minimally invasive surgery?

When surgical treatment is indicated, most providers and patients today choose minimally invasive procedures. For the patient, benefits may include:

  • Significantly less pain
  • Less blood loss
  • Less scarring
  • Shorter recovery time
  • A faster return to normal daily activities
  • Better clinical outcomes, in many cases

Talk with your surgeon about the benefits of your particular surgery.

How should I prepare for surgery?

General Surgical Care provides an instruction sheet for all patients scheduled for surgery, which you can download HERE. We also provide this sheet, as well as information pertaining to specific procedures, at your pre-operative office appointment.

Our providers understand that being ready for surgery means more than following preparation instructions. Cooley Dickinson supports and recommends Peggy Huddleston’s Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster, a book and audio-recording program that teaches mind-body techniques. The program helps individuals feel calm before surgery, have less pain after surgery, strengthen the immune system and promote a faster recovery.

Where will I have my surgery?

Our surgeons perform most of their procedures at The Kittredge Surgery Center, located within the North Building at Cooley Dickinson Hospital (download campus map). Certain minor surgeries can be done within our offices on Atwood Drive.

Who will perform my surgery?

Our surgeons, Dr. Holly Michaelson and Dr. Michelle Helms, are both qualified and experienced in all surgeries our practice provides. In general, your availability and theirs will dictate which surgeon will see you and perform your surgery. In addition, one of our surgeons is on call every day, for consultation on urgent treatment needs.

Our nurse practitioner, Casey Fowler, APRN, performs many in-office dermatological procedures.

Will my surgeon meet with me before surgery?

Yes. Your first appointment will be an initial consultation with your surgeon at our office. Once you and your surgeon have decided on your best course of surgical treatment, your surgeon will walk you down to our scheduling center, where our staff will help determine dates for your pre-op testing and surgery.

On the day of surgery, your surgeon will meet with you again during your pre-op process, to see how you are doing and review your information.

What are the risks of my surgery?

Some degree of risk is inherent with any surgery, including minor procedures. These risks vary depending on a range of factors, from the complexity of the surgery to the patient’s age and overall health. Your surgeon will thoroughly review with you all possible risks associated with your particular surgery and address any specific concerns you may have.

Does General Surgical Care perform cosmetic surgery? Orthopedic surgery?

These surgical specialties involve training and certification that are separate from general surgery. If you are interested in cosmetic surgery, please contact Cooley Dickinson Medical Group Plastic Surgery at 413-584-0044. For comprehensive orthopedic care, including joint replacement and other orthopedic surgery, please contact Cooley Dickinson Medical Group Orthopedics & Sports Medicine at 413-586-8200.

Can I have visitors before and after surgery?

Yes. At the Kittredge Surgery Center, family members or friends may visit you in the pre-op area once you’ve been prepped for surgery, and stay until you are ready to move to the operating room. Following surgery, your visitor(s) may come see you in the discharge area once you are awake, settled and comfortable. Your surgeon will notify them in the waiting area or by phone. (Parents of pediatric patients, and visitors in certain other cases, may see the patient in the post-anesthesia care unit before he or she moves to the discharge area.)

What will my recovery be like?

Your recovery experience will depend on the type of surgery and various other factors. Our surgeons and staff take all possible measures to help ensure that each patient’s recovery is as quick and comfortable as possible. You will be given post-op instructions during your discharge process (downloadable here), which include clear information on how to contact us if you have any questions or concerns once you are at home.

Peggy Huddleston’s Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster is also an excellent resource, as a smoother recovery is one goal of mindful preparation. (See “How should I prepare for surgery?” for more information.)

What types of insurance does your practice accept?

Cooley Dickinson Medical Group accepts most major health plans. Contact your insurance provider for details of your particular plan.