If you’re faced with the uncertainty of an upcoming surgery, you may be concerned about what the road to recovery will look like. Surgeries often require incisions to a large portion of the body in order for your surgeon to reach the root of the problem. These large incisions during traditional “open” procedures often leave patients with excess scarring, prolonged recovery periods, additional pain, and a significant risk of developing an incisional hernia. However, for many patients, there is another alternative. Minimally invasive surgery allows surgeons to maintain effective surgical results while producing less damage to the surrounding area compared to traditional “open” procedures.
During a minimally invasive procedure, your surgeon will make at least one tiny incision into the skin. They will then examine the inside of your body using a slender, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope to provide them with a large range of vision, given the small entry point. Your surgeon will then use small instruments to perform the surgery through one or more small incisions. Minimally invasive surgery can provide patients with a variety of benefits, including:
- Smaller, less noticeable scars
- Less bleeding
- Less trauma to the patient
- Reduced post-operation pain
- Less pain-reducing medication
- Reduced risk of infection
- Shorter hospital stay
Common procedures where you may elect to have minimally invasive surgery performed include gallbladder removal, hernias, colorectal, and other general procedures. For example, surgery after a groin hernia would traditionally require four to six weeks for recovery. But with minimally invasive techniques, patients now may only take a week to recover. Gallbladder removal has been one of the surgeries most improved by application of minimally invasive techniques. Before this technology was available, one large incision had to be made in the abdomen to remove the gallbladder. Now three to six tiny incisions are made, and the scarring is minimal. And recovery time has been reduced from four to six weeks to one to two weeks.
Although minimally invasive surgery comes with many benefits, it may not be right for every patient. As with any surgery some complications may arise. To avoid these complications, minimally invasive surgery will most likely not be performed if you have had multiple previous surgeries in the area of interest that may have created scar tissue, underlying medical conditions or a high Body Mass Index (BMI).
Minimally invasive surgery has become a common practice in the operating room. Many surgeons now are proficient in these techniques and can fully discuss all of the benefits and drawbacks associated with these kinds of procedures. Be sure to talk with your surgeon about the procedure that is best for you.