If you need a quadruple bypass, a new kidney or a 3-inch galvanized framing nail removed from your forehead, you don't have the luxury of scheduling your surgery. But elective surgeries open a world of options.
There are moms who schedule "Mommy Makeover" surgeries so they'll be fully recuperated in time for brunch on Mother's Day. There are women who schedule their plastic surgeries so they can show off their new breasts on Valentine's Day. One of the most popular elective surgeries for men generally isn't something scheduled around an event.
But Urology Ltd. of Elgin is trying to change that. Capitalizing on the annual "March Madness" NCAA basketball tournament that dominates the TV airwaves starting today, the clinic's new promotion "celebrates the big tournament with the 3-Point Shot" plan:
1) 1 vasectomy.
2) 1 free pizza from Nick's Pizza & Pub.
3) 1 weekend with a free pass from your wife to watch college hoops.
"Do you want pizza with that?" apparently is a question a guy wants to hear from his surgeon.
"We're starting to see an uptick," says Dr. Timothy J. Roth, one of the vasectomy-performing urologists at the clinic. "The whole idea of the ad is to capture those guys who were thinking about watching the games anyhow and were also thinking about getting a vasectomy. We're not trying to get the people who say, 'Vasectomy, oh, that looks interesting.'"
Adding a free beer to the deal was discussed and deemed "not unreasonable" but fell short of inclusion in the deal, Roth says. Patients are told that there are ways to get free pizza that don't involve this level of commitment. While vasectomies often can be reversed, the procedure is considered a permanent form of birth control.
The mere mention of the word vasectomy can generate snickering, cringing and a desire to talk about basketball, weather or anything above the waist. But there are more than 500,000 vasectomies performed in the United States every year, with some studies suggesting that those numbers increase during recessions. Vasectomy is the fourth most-common form of birth control in the United States behind condoms, the pill and tubal ligations, according to the American Urological Association, which also says the surgery is simple, safe and "one of the most cost-effective of all methods of contraception."
In contrast to all the squeamishness surrounding the procedure, Roth says vasectomies don't affect a man's strength, energy, virility or appetite -- for pizza or sex.
As do most urologists now, Roth performs the "no-scapel vasectomy." Applying a drug to numb the area, the doctor then uses pointed forceps to make a small hole in the scrotum through which he pulls out the vas deferens tubes, Cutting and sealing them prevents the flow of semen from the testicles.
"I wouldn't even call it a surgery," says Roth, who performs vasectomies in his office. "We do it in 30 minutes under local anesthetic."
A "30 minutes or less or your vasectomy's free" promotion might be worth considering since pizza already is on the table. The pizza plan was hatched in January at a local chamber of commerce event.
"Their office had this idea and we just went with it," says Monica Garapolo, who handles outside sales and catering for Nick's Pizza & Pub and had never imagined a vasectomy-pizza promotion. "How crazy is that? It's fun. It's a first for both locations. We're really hoping it's a success."
Many men already schedule vasectomies for Thursdays or Fridays so they'll have the weekend to recover, Roth says. Modern technology "makes it a lot easier to recover," Roth adds, noting that most men don't need prescription painkillers or even the stereotypical bag of frozen peas to reduce swelling. Patients are told to refrain from strenuous physical activity and sex for a week, but most feel like their old selves after a night or two, Roth says. Patients aren't considered sterile until tests two or three months later confirm a lack of sperm.
The NCAA tournament lasts far longer than a doctor's excuse to sit on the couch, but a scheduled vasectomy does give this clinic's patients a chance to catch a few games while eating a free pizza. With his medical degree from Indiana University, Roth is pulling for the No. 1 seed Hoosiers, the team also favored by President Obama. IU's first game is Friday afternoon, but Roth will miss it.
"I'll be seeing patients," Roth says, "and I believe I will be doing a vasectomy."