Six FAQs about Outpatient Surgery

Outpatient surgery is a category of surgical procedures where the patient goes home a few hours after surgery. It is also known as same-day or ambulatory surgery, and it is only an option for patients who are healthy enough to go through a surgical procedure with minimal risk of complications.

The procedures that fall under the category of outpatient surgery are relatively minor. They include dental procedures, minor oral surgery, elective procedures and surgeries that treat the extremities. Minor surgeries that treat ENT problems can also be done as outpatient surgeries.

Are you considering outpatient surgery? If so, here is a list of frequently asked questions and their answers. They will help you learn more about the process.

FAQs about outpatient surgery

1. When is outpatient surgery better than a hospital stay?

Medical advances brought with them improved surgical techniques, which has led to the creation of minimally invasive procedures. As an example, getting the tonsils removed required a short hospital stay as recently as 30 years ago. Now a patient can have a tonsillectomy and go straight home, just like they would after getting a filling.

Outpatient surgery is a better option when:

  • A patient is healthy and at near-zero risk of developing a complication
  • The patient needs a minor surgical procedure that has a high rate of success
  • A person would prefer to heal in the comfort of their home with the help of a good support system
  • A person would like to save the money they would otherwise spend on a hospital bed
  • The surgery does not need the kind of post-op care that can only be given by medical professional

2. Where are same-day surgeries done?

A place where outpatient surgeries are done is known as an ambulatory care center. It can be housed in a hospital building, or it can be a satellite of a hospital. Some care centers are independent medical centers that have no affiliation with any hospital.

In some cases, same day surgeries are performed right at the doctor’s office, and that is why a same-day surgery is sometimes referred to as an in-office surgery.

3. What are some common outpatient surgeries?

Surgical procedures done on the skin can be done on an outpatient basis. This includes the removal of melanomas and laser resurfacing. The removal of a cancerous breast tumor is usually a same-day surgery. As are repairs of abdominal hernias, tendons and joints.

A person can also have cataracts or a gallbladder removed and go home on the same day.

4. How does a person prepare for the surgery?

Once a person has been cleared for outpatient surgery, the doctor will schedule an appointment. To prepare for the surgery, the doctor may put a person on medication, or ask the patient to discontinue certain medicines like blood thinners.

A patient is advised to begin fasting eight to 12 hours prior to the surgery. They should wear loose, comfortable clothing and forego jewelry, contact lenses, makeup and dentures for the day. Lastly, they should arrange for prescribed medication, soft foods as well as transport to and from the surgery.

The patient should arrive at the care center or doctor’s office two hours before surgery.

5. What happens at the outpatient care center?

Once a patient checks in and completes some paperwork, the following things happen:

  • In a pre-operation waiting area, the patient will get an IV as well as any necessary medication
  • The person will be taken to the operating room
  • The patient will be fitted with sensors that monitor their heart rate, pulse and oxygen level
  • They will also be fitted with an oxygen mask
  • An anesthesiologist will sedate the patient with a local, regional, spinal or general anesthetic
  • The surgeon will perform the procedure
  • The patient will be taken to a recovery room where the anesthesia team will wait for the person to regain consciousness. Medical staff will monitor the patient for pain, nausea and high blood pressure
  • Before the person leaves, the doctor will make sure that they can eat and swallow without throwing up. The doctor will also confirm that the patient can urinate and walk on their own

6. What does at-home care involve?

A person should rest and avoid activity for the time period that the doctor has specified. Which is why it is important for a person to have someone take care of them for a little while.

They should take their prescribed medication and eat the types of food recommended by the physician. In case of pain, infection or any other complication, the patient and their caretaker should go back to the hospital or care center. In case of an emergency, the patient should call 911.

Are same-day surgeries the future?

As surgical techniques become more advanced and less invasive, the list of outpatient procedures will continue to grow. If you need medical attention, get an evaluation to see if you qualify for outpatient surgery.

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For more information or to schedule an appointment with General & Laparoscopic Surgeons of New York LLP, request an appointment in our New York clinic here: Or call us at (212) 548-3267.

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