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What Does Outpatient Surgery Mean?

Outpatient surgery may sound like an oxymoron, but the last few decades of improvement in healthcare and technology make it possible. Today, some common surgeries are now performed on an outpatient basis, which improves things for both the healthcare industry and the healthcare consumer. There are many variations to the outpatient process, but it means no overnight stay in a hospital and a more comfortable recovery at home for most.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Surgery

There are two surgery formats: inpatient and outpatient. The names tell you the most crucial difference between the two.

If you are having inpatient surgery, you can expect to stay in the hospital for at least one night. This is the more traditional approach that people often associate with the word “surgery.”

Outpatient surgery means you will go home the same day.

Outpatient Surgery Goes By Many Names

If your primary doctor or healthcare provider recommends outpatient surgery, they may call it by another name such as:

  • Same-day surgery
  • Ambulatory surgery
  • Day surgery

These titles are just another way of saying outpatient surgery.

How Is Outpatient Surgery Possible?

It does seem a little like science fiction, but outpatient surgery first became a thing back in the 1970s. The first ambulatory surgical center popped up in Arizona. The goal then and now is to provide patients with a more convenient and cost-saving surgical option. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, almost half of all surgeries are outpatient procedures.

Modern-day outpatient surgeries are more complex than they were offered in that first ambulatory surgical center, thanks to the advancements in technology and the improvements in healthcare. Today, patients have access to more advanced sedation techniques, better pain management options, and improved surgical procedures such as everything from knee to shoulder to hip repairs or joint replacements.

Can You Drive Home After Outpatient Surgery?

Patients must have a family member or friend come to pick them up after the procedure. There must also be someone with you for 24 hours after surgery. This person is there to help you and alert your healthcare team if there are any problems.

Is Anesthesia Available?

During the procedure, you will have some form of anesthesia such as IV sedation, local, regional, or even general anesthesia. All surgeries use some type of anesthesia.

The Benefits of Outpatient Surgery

The idea of recovering after the surgery at home is probably one of the appealing benefits for patients. For most, it is a less stressful environment.

Hospital stays can be uncomfortable. Hospitals are also full of sick people, so a home recovery reduces your risk of infection.

Outpatient surgery also lowers the overall cost of healthcare, which means less out-of-pocket expense for the patient and family. It eliminates the expense of a night in the hospital with complete nursing care.

Outpatient Surgery at Prime Surgical Suites

Where you have your outpatient surgery matters, too. Prime Surgical Suites offers state-of-the-art operating rooms and equipment. Our elite surgeons are at the top in their fields and have advanced training and extensive experience.

At Prime Surgical Suites, we take a patient-centric approach by offering concierge-level care. Our new facility is built with the comfort of the patient in mind.

If you need outpatient surgery, we are ready to help. Contact us today to find out more about Prime Surgical Suites.


At Prime Surgical Suites, we provide state-of-the-art, cost-effective musculoskeletal surgical care in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting for patients of all ages. Located in RiverCrest Medical Park, we are the region's first outpatient center focused exclusively on orthopedics. Our physician-led center will help restore your active lifestyle and well-being with compassion and orthopedic excellence.