What is outpatient surgery?
Outpatient means that you don’t stay in the hospital overnight. Inpatient means you
stay overnight. Many types of surgery are now being done on an outpatient basis. This
is because more types of surgery are less invasive. It means they don’t need large
cuts (incisions). Because of that, problems after surgery are less common. You can
go home to recover.
Not all people can have outpatient surgery. For some procedures, you will need to
be in the hospital. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will look at your medical history.
This will help them to decide if your surgery can be done as outpatient.
What types of surgery may be outpatient?
Some types of surgery mean you need a lot of care afterwards. Or they may have a high
risk of problems after surgery. For those, you need to stay in the hospital. The best
situation for outpatient is a surgery that is less complex and done on a healthier
person. Common procedures that are often done on an outpatient basis include:
Where is outpatient surgery done?
Outpatient surgery is done in a variety of places. A surgery center may be in a hospital.
Or it may be a separate facility. It may be part of the hospital system. Or it may
be an independent clinic. Some types of surgery can be done in a healthcare provider's
What are the benefits of outpatient surgery?
The benefits can include:
Convenience. Recovering in your home can be easier than staying in a hospital.
Lower cost. Since there are no overnight hospital charges, costs are much lower for outpatient
surgery. Some insurance companies will only cover certain types of surgery on an outpatient
basis. (If needed, your healthcare provider can certify that you need inpatient care
due to your health.)
Less stress. In most cases, going home after surgery is less stressful than being in the hospital.
This is often true for children who are afraid of being away from home. Most people
prefer to recover in their homes rather than in the hospital.
Easier to schedule. In a hospital, a scheduled surgery may be delayed by an emergency surgery or procedures
that take longer than planned. An outpatient clinic can often stay on schedule more
easily. This is because the procedures are less complex and more routine.
Is outpatient surgery safe for older adults?
Age is not a reason to exclude an older adult from having outpatient surgery. But
age does affect the reaction to some types of anesthetic medicine. Short-acting medicines
often take longer to break down in older adults. Older adults may also have more health
problems. These could make an outpatient surgery more risky. An older adult needs
to have a full medical assessment before any surgery. This will help to decide the
best place to do the surgery.
How soon after surgery can I go home?
When you can go home depends on the type of surgery and anesthesia. It also depends
on your insurance coverage, and the policy of the surgery center. Most people can
go home between 1 to 4 hours after outpatient surgery. The surgeon or anesthesiologist
will give you more exact timing for your case. In some cases, you may need to stay
overnight. All outpatient clinics have arrangements with a hospital if needed. After
an outpatient procedure, plan to have someone to drive you home and stay with you
for a period of time. Most people can't drive for at least 24 hours after surgery.
What should I expect when I get home?
You may be drowsy and have other minor after-effects. These include muscle aches,
sore throat, dizziness, or headaches. You may have nausea. You may also be tired and
have discomfort for a day or two. This depends on the type of procedure done. Your
healthcare providers will tell you what to expect.
At home, you may need to manage pain with pain medicine. Follow instructions for this
medicine exactly as prescribed. A healthcare provider will follow up with you to make
sure you are recovering well. You will also be told who to call if you have concerns
or need urgent help.