Laparoscopy, also known as keyhole surgery, is a common surgical procedure used to evaluate and treat the organs inside your abdomen and pelvis. It’s minimally invasive and requires only small incisions on the skin of the tummy, to introduce the specialised equipment to conduct the surgery. A long thin tube with high-intensity light source and telescopic lens system connected to an external high-resolution camera allows the surgeon to assess the state of the internal organs. Other similarly shaped equipment may be introduced to conduct a wide variety of treatment; in the woman, common procedures done with laparoscopy include testing of fallopian tube patency, removal of scar tissue, cysts, fibroids, or even whole organs such as diseased ovaries and womb.
Does keyhole surgery allow you to go home faster?
Laparoscopy is the preferred route for most gynaecological surgeries nowadays, as it confers the benefits of better vision for the conduct of finer surgery, less pain, faster recovery and less scarring / infection, compared to traditional open surgery. The typical post-op stay for laparoscopy is between 1-3 days, whereas open versions of the same surgery typically requires the patient to stay at least 2-3 days, sometimes up to a week, especially if complications arise.
How long does the pain last after keyhole surgery?
The post-op pain is significantly lower in laparoscopy than open surgery, because the amount of pain is proportionately related to the size of the skin incision. When there is less pain, patients are more likely to be able to start to move around, reducing the risk of spontaneous blood clots forming in the legs (which is a well-described risk of open surgery).
How long does it take for keyhole wounds to heal?
The wounds also heal faster for laparoscopy (typically fully healed within 1-2 weeks), compared to open surgery, which may take 2-3 weeks for the skin to be fully healed. The scars of laparoscopy are aesthetically more appealing and less likely to develop into unsightly keloids, compared to wounds of open surgery.
Are you awake for keyhole surgery?
Laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) is usually performed under general anaesthesia, which means that you’ll be total asleep during the surgery and will not feel anything during the surgery, nor have any memory of what took place during the procedure. Once the operation is complete, the general anaesthesia is reversed and the patient will wake up immediately, before being moved out of the operating theatre, to the recovery ward for observation.
What are the key differences between laparoscopy and open surgery?
Laparoscopy has superseded traditional open surgery for most of the common gynaecological procedures today. This is because of the benefits discussed above, plus others summarised here:
- Better visualisation of the pelvic organs, so that fine surgery is possible, with less damage to adjacent structures, less bleeding, less internal scarring and lower infection rates
- Small incisions with less pain and faster healing
- Less pain also allows the patient to start walking earlier and discharge sooner
However, laparoscopy requires appropriate training and experience to achieve the desired effects of the surgery, equal or better than open surgery. There is also greater reliance on quality of the surgery equipment, which have to be maintained regularly by the hospital.
After laparoscopic surgery, you may wake up feeling some tenderness in your belly button and see some dressings on your tummy, to protect the keyhole incisions. The gas used during the surgery can also make you feel bloated or uncommonly, some shoulder-tip pain. These are usually self-limiting and should resolve by the time you discharge home.
Your doctor will prescribe the necessary antibiotics or pain relievers to ensure that your recovery is smooth and uncomplicated. After the surgery, you should pay attention to your body during the period of recovery. If you feel any side effects, write them down and discuss them with your doctor.