Major Surgery and Minor Surgery: What Are the Differences

Surgical procedures are used to repair damage within the body or remove diseased tissues that are affecting a person's health and quality of life. Surgeries normally fall into two comprehensive types, major surgery, and minor surgery.

What Is a Major Surgery?

Major surgery normally involves opening the body, allowing the surgeon access to the area where the work needs to be completed. It involves major trauma to the tissues, a high risk of infection, and an extended recovery period. Most major surgeries will leave a large scar.

What Are Some Major Surgeries?

There are many different surgeries that fall into this category. They include:

  • Cesarean section
  • Organ replacement
  • Joint replacement
  • Full hysterectomy
  • Heart surgeries
  • Bariatric surgeries, including the gastric bypass

While some of these procedures may be able to be performed in less invasive ways, they still involve major trauma to the body and can have long-lasting complications.

Is Gallbladder Surgery a Major Surgery?

Gallbladder surgery is a common surgical procedure that is performed for gallbladder removal. It is usually done with minimally invasive techniques and involves small openings in the abdomen.

Is an Appendectomy a Major Surgery?

An appendectomy is a common surgery that is done to treat appendicitis. It involves removal of the appendix and can be open and laparoscopic depending on the severity and your medical history.

What Is a Minor Surgery?

Minor surgical procedures are those that are minimally invasive. In most cases, these are performed laparoscopically or arthroscopically. Small incisions are made that allow surgical tools and a small camera to be inserted into the body. This allows the doctor to perform the procedure without damaging extensive amounts of tissue. The risk of infection is greatly reduced and the patient's recovery time is much shorter. There are also surgical procedures that are superficial, only affecting the outermost portions of the body.

What Are Some Minor Surgeries?

Minor surgeries include:

  • Cataract surgery
  • Dental restorations
  • Circumcision
  • Breast biopsy
  • Arthroscopy
  • Laparoscopy
  • Burn excision and debridement procedures

Learn about: Laparotomy and Laparoscopy Surgery: What You Should Know

Every surgery involves some degree of risk, but performing minor surgeries that are less invasive can shorten a patient's recovery time and effectively reduce their risk of infection.

Major Surgery vs Minor Surgery

Major Surgery Minor Surgery
More extensive resection is done Small incisions are made
Cause damage to the tissues No extensive damage to the tissues
A high risk of infection The risk of infection is low
Extended recovery period Recovery time is shorter

Surgical procedures in both categories should be carefully considered. The risk involved is often outweighed by the benefits the procedure offers. Improving the quality of life and restoring health are the two main priorities when making the decision to go ahead with the procedure.

Far North Surgery is one of the trusted surgery centers in Alaska that provides safe and successful surgical procedures. We are committed to providing the best patient care and state-of-the-art technology. Contact us at 907-276-3676 to schedule an appointment.

Related Blog: Common Surgical Procedures in the United States


Dr. Madhu Prasad, M.D., FACS

Dr. Madhu Prasad has over 30+ years of experience working as a general surgeon and surgical oncologist and providing the highest level of care in Anchorage, Alaska. He believes in providing quality care to patients and their families. Inspired by compassion and humanism, Dr. Prasad and his team work for the well-being of their patients.

Common Surgical Procedures

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