Understanding Outpatient Surgery

Many surgical procedures performed in hospitals 10 years ago are now being done on an outpatient basis, in which the patient goes home the same day as the surgery.

In fact, more than 60 percent of elective surgery procedures in the United States are now performed as outpatient surgeries. This percentage is expected to increase to nearly 75 percent in the next decade, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists.


Some reasons outpatient surgery has become more popular with patients and health care providers:

  • Convenience. With outpatient surgery, a person returns home on the same day as the procedure.

  • Advances in medical technology. These advances allow doctors to use less invasive procedures than were once needed.

  • Lower cost. Care costs are much lower for outpatient surgery because there are no charges for hospital rooms and care.

  • Less stress. Most people find outpatient surgery less stressful than inpatient surgery because they can recover at home.


Procedures routinely done in outpatient settings include removal of tonsils and adenoids, adding ear tubes, hernia repairs, gallbladder operations, colonoscopies, hemorrhoid repairs, cataract surgery, liposuction, cosmetic surgery, and some foot, ankle, and hand operations.


Outpatient surgeries are performed in a variety of settings:

  • Hospital outpatient centers. These are hospital-owned and operated facilities (on hospital grounds) that specialize in outpatient surgery.

  • Freestanding surgery centers. These are owned by a group of physicians or for-profit companies.

  • Physicians' offices. Doctors can perform minor procedures in their offices. These include skin biopsies, mole removal, and wrinkle removal.


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