What is Minimally Invasive Gynecological Surgery?

Learn what "minimally invasive" means and how it has revolutionized women's health

Until recently, gynecological surgery was a major surgical endeavor that required a long recovery time and a lot of risk. Minimally invasive procedures with the use of things like robotics and a laparoscope have changed this, and today's gynecological procedures can be done more simply.

Now, with minimally invasive surgery, procedures are quick, less painful and allow patients to be back on their feet and living a full life more quickly.

What is Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery is done by making only a few small incisions to access the abdomen, rather than making one large cut to access the whole area. This can be done in a few different ways, using either an abdominal cut or the vaginal area to access the surgical field.

Typically a camera, called a "laparoscope," is inserted into the abdomen (often through the navel). This allows the doctor to see what they are doing without the need for large incisions.

Types of Procedures

Minimally invasive procedures can be used for a number of different conditions. This can include:

These and other common procedures can either be done as an endoscopy or as robotic surgery. Endoscopy is also called laparoscopy, hysteroscopy and keyhole surgery. It involves two incisions: one for the camera and one for a set of specialized instruments that can be operated from outside the body.

Robotic assisted surgery requires the same two holes. However, the tools are run robotically. The surgeon runs the tools, but does so in this case from a control panel rather than having the tools in his or her hand.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Surgery

The benefits of minimally invasive surgery are myriad. While many of these procedures require very little healing internally, a large abdominal cut can take a long time to heal. It can cause loss of core strength and the ability to do daily tasks. It means lost days at work, pain, and extra time and cost in the hospital.

Minimally invasive surgeries are significantly faster. Because there is less damaged tissue, there is a lowered risk of infection. The procedures are often day surgeries rather than requiring overnight time in the hospital. They can be done in locations that are discrete, lowering the risk of scarring.

After surgery, you can do more. If you are an athlete who enjoys load-bearing exercises or have kids who need carrying, you can return to these activities sooner. For those who are budget-conscious, the cost of an outpatient procedure is often less than the cost of overnight or several days of time in the hospital. Aftercare is briefer, you have a lower risk of infections and less pain.

Who Should Consider this Procedure?

Many gynecological surgeries are being performed this way today. There are several factors to determine if you are a good candidate. The amount of abdominal and visceral fat in the area may be a factor, and the doctor can coach you through where their unique concerns may be regarding this aspect.

Good candidates for outpatient surgery often have low risk of complications due to other health factors. Their cardiac and vascular health are considered normal. They are not diabetic. The procedure has a defined purpose and is not exploratory; for example, a surgery where cancer should be watched for may not be the best choice for a laparoscope.

In general, those who have simple procedures that need to be done and are in good health are often excellent candidates for these types of surgery.

If you have questions about your candidacy for minimally invasive surgery, call the experts at All About Women.