Surgery Overview


Many people face having an operation at some point in their lives. While some operations require a stay in hospital as an inpatient, an increasing number of procedures can be performed as day surgery. Advances in surgical procedures and anaesthesia have made having an operation safer than ever, with shorter recovery times and fewer side effects.

The first article covers minor surgical procedures that may be carried out in your doctor’s surgery or in hospital on an outpatient basis. The second article outlines what you can expect to take place when you have major surgery, including your recovery afterwards. Major surgery is always performed in hospital. All hospitals and surgical procedures vary, but there are certain routines that are common to all, such as a thorough physical assessment before an operation to check your overall fitness for anaesthesia and surgery. This assessment may take place weeks or days before you are admitted to hospital. The final article discusses convalescence once you have returned home after major surgery. Different types of surgery are described in a separate section (see Types of surgery).

Having Minor Surgery

Having Major Surgery

Convalescence After Major Surgery

Surgery at its most basic level consists of cutting through body tissues, treating a problem, and sewing up the wound. However, the development of surgical techniques using new technology, such as microsurgery and laser treatment, has enabled more complex operations to be performed with increasing precision.

Open surgery, in which internal body structures are accessed through large incisions, is the most common type of surgery and is discussed in the opening article. However, an increasing number of operations are now performed using endoscopic surgery, which is discussed next. Endoscopic surgery requires only a small incision or none at all. Further articles cover other specialized surgical techniques, including microsurgery and laser treatment, both of which are used in plastic surgery to reconstruct or repair tissues. Microsurgery can be performed on tiny structures, such as the nerves. Laser treatment has many uses, such as removing birthmarks and repairing delicate parts of the eye. The final article discusses transplant surgery, which enables diseased and failing body parts to be replaced with healthy ones.

What happens before, during, and after surgery is covered elsewhere (see Having an operation).

A surgical procedure

Almost all surgical procedures involve cutting through tissues and then securing the tissue edges together to promote healing, reduce bleeding, and prevent infection.

Open Surgery

Endoscopic Surgery


Laser Treatment

Plastic Surgery

Transplant Surgery

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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