Minimally invasive surgery isn’t only used to treat gynecologic cancers. It also can be used for urinary incontinence, uterine fibroids and endometriosis. Here, we explore what minimally invasive surgery is and some potential benefits.
WHAT IS IT?
Minimally invasive surgery is a downsized version of traditional surgery. Through small incisions, surgeons use tiny telescopes and cameras to view the body’s organs, and wield special, minute instruments to perform the procedure. This leads to big advantages for the patient.
GET WELL SOON!
“One of the best things about minimally invasive surgery is that recovery time is cut in half in most cases,” says Colin Koon, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
“Whereas with traditional open surgery, women would spend up to three or four days in the hospital, now they can usually be back home within one day.”
In fact, the entire recovery time is shortened. The new technology also allows most women to be back to the things they love in a week or two, compared with six weeks with traditional surgery.
“We do have to caution patients to not overdo it with things like heavy lifting, but most women can return to some normal daily activities, like office work, almost immediately,” Dr. Koon says.
But more strenuous activities, like exercise, are off the table for six weeks, he adds.
LESS PAIN, MORE GAIN
It may be hard to imagine having major surgery and not needing major pain medication during recovery, but that’s often the case for many women who undergo minimally invasive procedures.
“It’s different for every patient, but it is not uncommon for a woman to need little to no pain medication following the procedure,” Dr. Koon says.
A recovery marked by minimal pain is due in part to the smaller incisions. With minimally invasive surgery, incisions are typically only a half-inch long.
A recovery marked by minimal pain is due in part to the smaller incisions. in traditional surgery, an incisions might be five inches or more, depending on the size of the uterus and of the tumors or fibroids.
Because of this, scars are smaller and less noticeable.
“The top priority of any doctor is always the safety of the patient,” Dr. Joon says.
“A huge plus of minimally invasive surgery is the safety factor,” With smaller incisions, there’s less trauma to the body, less risk for infection and less blood loss.