Minimally invasive surgical approaches have revolutionized surgical care and considerably improved surgical outcomes. The instrumentation has changed significantly from open to laparoscopic and robotic surgery with various usability and ergonomics qualities.To establish guidelines for future designing of surgical instruments, this study assesses the effects of current surgical approaches and instruments on the surgeon. Furthermore, an analysis of surgeons’ preferences with respect to instrument handles was performed to identify the main acceptance criteria. In all, 49 surgeons (24 with robotic surgery experience, 25 without) completed the survey about physical discomfort and working conditions. The respondents evaluated comfort, intuitiveness, precision, and stability of 7 instrument handles. Robotic surgery procedures generally take a longer time than conventional procedures but result in less back, shoulder, and wrist pain; 28% of surgeons complained about finger and neck pain during robotic surgery. Three handles (conventional needle holder, da Vinci wrist, and joystick-like handle) received significantly higher scores for most of the proposed criteria.The handle preference is best explained by a regression model related only to comfort and precision (R 2 = 0.91) and is significantly affected by the surgeon’s background (P < .001). Although robotic surgery seems to alleviate physical discomfort during and after surgery, the results of this study show that there is room for improvement in the sitting posture and in the ergonomics of the handles. Comfort and precision have been found to be the most important aspects for the surgeon’s choice of an instrument handle. Furthermore, surgeons’ professional background should be considered when designing novel surgical instruments.