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How Many Surgeries Are Performed Each Year?

There are approximately 234 million major surgeries performed each year around the world. That means one out of 25 people will have a major surgery in a given year. In this case, "major surgery" refers to those procedures where the patient receives general anesthesia and respiratory assistance. This estimate is believed to be lower than the actual number of major surgeries because accurate surgical statistics can be difficult to collect especially in some developing countries.

More surgical details:

  • More than 25% of these surgeries, or 60 million, are performed to treat injuries sustained in a traumatic accident. About half that amount are performed to treat cancer.

  • In the UK, women receive more plastic surgeries by a factor of 9. Breast augmentations, eyelid surgeries, and face and neck lifts are the most common plastic surgeries, according to British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons in 2011.

  • Minor surgery — like some biopsies, tonsillectomies, and sewing up a cut — involves relatively shallow cuts into the skin (or mucus membranes) to remove connective tissue (the tissue between the outer layer of skin and the muscle). Major surgery does include general anesthetic and breathing assistance for the patient and involves a procedure that goes past the connective tissue to work within body cavities, on organs, muscles, or bones. Examples of major surgeries include organ transplants, the removal of some tumors, and knee and hip replacements.

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