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A Guide to Major Surgery vs. Minor Surgery

Rachel Horan

Rachel Horan

May 19, 20212 minute read
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Whether it’s an appendectomy or a cyst removal, the severity of a surgery can vary. However, being told that you need surgery can be scary nonetheless.  There are two main types of surgical procedures: major surgery and minor surgery. Major surgeries tend to be life-saving procedures, whereas minor surgeries are generally elective or cosmetic.

On this page:

    Let’s dive into what major and minor surgery is, the differences between the two, and the costs involved.

    What is major surgery?

    Major surgery typically involves opening the body so that a surgeon can repair a specific area of the body. This involves major trauma to the tissues, a high risk for infection, and a longer recovery period. Normally, a major surgery will leave the person with a scar.

    According to Better Health, major surgery can include surgery to the organs of the head, chest, and abdomen.

    What are some examples of major surgery?

    A major surgery could include an organ transplant, removal of a brain tumour, removal of a damaged kidney, or open-heart surgery. While these are all considerably major surgeries, there are other types of surgery that can also fall under the category of ‘major’ including:

    • Caesarean section (C-section);
    • Joint replacement (e.g. hip replacements, knee replacements);
    • Full hysterectomy;
    • Bariatric surgeries, including gastric bypass.

    What is minor surgery?

    Minor surgery, on the other hand, is typically less invasive. Often, these procedures are performed laparoscopically or arthroscopically. This means that only small incisions may be required in order to insert a small camera into the body. In this way, the doctor is able to perform surgery with minimal trauma to tissues. Additionally, there are some minor surgical procedures that don’t require incisions so that no scar will be left.

    People that have had a minor surgery can usually go home on the same day as their procedure. This is because there is less risk involved and a much faster recovery time.

    What are some examples of minor surgery?

    Minor surgery can be anything from sewing up a cut or biopsy of a breast lump. Some other minor surgeries include:

    • Cataract surgery;
    • Circumcision;
    • Dental restorations;
    • Arthroscopy;
    • Laparoscopy;
    • Burn excision and debridement procedures.

    Unfortunately, there is still a degree of risk involved in any surgical procedure. However, in general, there is less risk involved in minor procedures than major ones.

    Major Surgery vs. Minor Surgery

    To sum up what we’ve discussed about major and minor surgery, here’s a table outlining the differences between the two:

    Major Surgery Minor Surgery
    More extensive incision. Small incision if any required.
    Major trauma to tissues. No extensive damage to tissues.
    High risk of infection. Low risk of infection.
    Longer recovery period. Shorter recovery period.

    What are the costs?

    If you have your surgical procedure done at a public hospital and hold a Medicare card, there will be no costs involved.

    However, if you choose to have your procedure done as a private patient in a public or private hospital, you may have to pay any out-of-pocket costs involved.

    To give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay, here are the average costs of major and minor surgeries in Australia (with or without insurance):

    Surgery Average cost (without insurance) Average cost (with insurance/Medicare rebate)
    C-section in the hospital $14,000 $0 to $12,000
    Hip replacement $19,439 to $42,007 $5,567
    Hysterectomy $12,000 $0 to $3,000
    Gastric bypass $20,000 $3,500
    Cataract surgery $4,305 $297
    Dental filling $417 $269
    Knee arthroscopy $4,610 $525

    Copyright © www.jacarandafinance.com.au Jacaranda Finance Pty Ltd ® ABN 53 162 078 195 Australian Credit Licence 456 404, Pawnbroking License Number 4221738. The information on this web-page is general information and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Information provided on this website is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.


    Rachel Horan
    Rachel Horan

    Written by Rachel Horan

    Rachel Horan is a Content Writer for Jacaranda Finance. Rachel has previously produced content for Brisbane City Council, Black & White Cabs, and Clubs Queensland. She has a Bachelor of Mass Communication with Distinction from the Queensland University of Technology.

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