Understanding Outpatient Surgery

If you need surgery, you may be able to go home the same day you have the procedure. Thanks to advances in technology and anesthesia, nearly 6 surgeries out of every 10 surgeries done at hospitals are done as "outpatient" procedures. This means you go home the same day you have your surgery. Nearly 53 million of these kinds of surgeries are done each year in the U.S., according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.


Some reasons outpatient surgery has become more popular:

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

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

  • 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, and hemorrhoid repairs. Also, cataract surgery, liposuction, cosmetic surgery, and some foot, ankle, and hand operations are usually done in outpatient settings.


Outpatient surgeries are done 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 health care providers, for-profit companies, or hospitals.

  • Health care providers' offices. Health care providers can do minor procedures in their offices. These include skin biopsies, mole removal, and wrinkle removal.