4 Things to Expect After Minimally Invasive Surgery
Learning that you or your loved one needs surgery can be a nerve-racking experience, even if it is only a minimally invasive procedure. While surgery is designed to repair your body and improve your health, many patients have anxiety about “going under the knife.” One of the best ways to be prepared for surgery is to know what to expect.
What is Minimally Invasive Surgery
Minimally invasive surgery, also called laparoscopic surgery, is used by doctors in many fields as a less- intrusive way to address a health issue requiring surgery. These surgeries tend to be less risky and cause less stress on the body than open operations.
Minimally invasive surgery is not suitable for every case, but when appropriate, it allows for shorter recovery times and smaller incisions, and reduces the risk of infection. These procedures are especially beneficial to elderly patients and others who are prone to infection and complications. Common minimally invasive surgeries include orthopedic, cardiac, gynecological and gastrointestinal procedures.
“Laparoscopic surgery is becoming the standard for many surgical procedures,” says Michael B. Goldberg, M.D., Crozer Health general surgeon. “In some cases and for some procedures, we’ve moved to advanced robotic-assisted laparoscopic technology, which gives the surgeon even more precision.”
What to Expect After Surgery
It is important to remember that, while less intrusive, your body will still need time to heal after minimally invasive surgery. Here are some things you should expect after the procedure:
- Hospital Stay: Inpatient recovery time for minimally invasive surgery is often significantly shorter than that of regular surgery. Your doctor will decide how long your inpatient recovery will be. Some patients may be able to go home a few hours after surgery; others can expect to stay one to four days. Orthopedic patients may require physical therapy before going home.
- Recovery Time: Like shortened hospital stays, patients will also have a shorter overall recovery time. Minimally invasive surgery tends to cut recovery time in half as compared to traditional surgery. Patients who were sent home the day of surgery are often back to work after two weeks. Recovery can take up to four to six weeks.
- Pain and Discomfort: Minimally invasive surgery causes less pain than traditional surgery because it is less disruptive to unrelated tissue and muscles in the body. Although less severe, patients should expect to experience some discomfort. Your doctor will develop an appropriate treatment plan for pain management.
- Minimal Scarring: Doctors performing these procedures aim to minimize the damage and strain on the body. This is usually done through a small incision that is usually only millimeters long. While it is likely you will have a scar once the incision heals, it will be significantly smaller than that of a traditional procedure. Be sure to keep the area clean and consult your doctor if it looks irregular.
“Minimally invasive surgery can make a real difference in how patients feel immediately after surgery and during recovery. Smaller incisions and less trauma to the body means less risk, an easier recovery, and quicker return to work,” Goldberg says.
While these are typical of what a patient can expect after minimally invasive surgery, it is important to consult your doctor about what to expect regarding your specific situation.