Is there such a thing as a minor procedure?

When I was in residency training, I was watching one of my professors remove an eyelid growth from a patient in his office. I asked my professor if he often does minor procedures in his office, and he caught me off guard when he said I shouldn’t be asking such as question; he said “you should know by now that there are no such things as minor procedures.” My professor’s comment stuck with me all these years since, and has guided my conservative philosophy toward ocular procedures.

Although advancement and safety of ocular procedures has (and continues to) improved over the last several years, the truth is that complications, even serious ones, can happen during the simplest of procedures. This truth has guided my conservative approach towards eye surgery in patients, encouraging patients to consider surgery a last resort. When patients are well informed about the risks, benefits, and alternatives to eye surgery, they can make more informed decisions; and when doctors take conservative approaches to elective procedures, we will feel at greater ease having lived up to the bio-ethical tenet of “first, do no harm.”

David Paikal, MD

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