GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Ambulatory surgery centers, also commonly known as outpatient care centers, are growing in popularity for surgical procedures.

Going under the knife is something many people would like to avoid, as it sometimes is accompanied by a hefty price tag and, at times, a lengthy recovery.

Ever since the pandemic began, Bon Secours Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. John Womack, said ambulatory surgery centers have become more common sites for procedures.

“In other surgery centers across the United States and across the world, these procedures can be done very safely and very effectively as an outpatient and ambulatory surgery centers, and really don’t require a hospital,” said Dr. John Womack, Bon Secours St. Francis Orthopedic Surgeon.

Dr. Womack said the centers handle orthopedic procedures that mainly deal with bones, joints and muscles, as well as ear, nose, and throat operations.

But what exactly are ambulatory surgery centers? And why are they now growing in popularity?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s a location for surgical services for patients who do not require hospitalization. The CDC said it can also cost significantly less while meeting the same level of care.

“It’s not that we don’t need hospitals in the world, we certainly do; it’s just a higher cost area to provide the same care you can provide in an ambulatory surgery center for the same quality, the same set safety profile and a lower cost to the patient,” said Dr. Womack.

As for how much less, doctors said it varies.

“It’s hard to say in general. On average, I would say in the United States, you’re looking at a 30 to 40% reduction in the cost of a procedure when done in an ambulatory surgery center versus done at a hospital-based setting,” said Dr. Womack.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, ambulatory surgery centers allow for more specialized care and higher patient satisfaction rates because of smaller and more personalized teams.

Ambulatory surgery centers like Bon Secours’ new Millennium Surgery Center, which is expected to open in 2024, can reduce hospital occupancy and allow easier access.

The CDC said a patient’s stay in these centers usually does not exceed 24 hours.

There is still a need for hospitals, however, doctors believe the ambulatory surgery centers will benefit patients’ recovery and their pockets too.

To submit a health topic for our ‘Ask the Expert’ series, click here.