As technology advances, more and more medical procedures are able to be performed in a minimally invasive manner, but what exactly does that mean? At Fleur Women’s Health in Rancho Mirage, CA, we are experts at minimally invasive surgery, so we are able to provide information on what is considered minimally invasive as opposed to invasive surgery.
What Is Considered Minimally Invasive Surgery?
Invasive Surgical Procedures
The standard definition of invasive surgery is a medical procedure that requires a surgeon to access the internal body cavity through a large incision. This incision allows the surgeon the ability to use their medical instruments to repair or remove parts of the body that have been damaged by injury or illness. With invasive surgery, the surgeon is able to see the surgical field through the incision and may or may not use magnifying tools to enhance their view.
Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
This type of surgery is any medical procedure that’s conducted through tiny incisions instead of a large one. Patients who undergo minimally invasive procedures receive several millimeter-long incisions around the treatment area. An endoscope equipped with a light and camera is inserted into one incision, and the tools necessary to repair or remove the body part are inserted into the others. The camera image is projected onto monitors in the surgery room, allowing the surgeon to see inside the body.
Patients who undergo minimally invasive procedures are usually able to recover more quickly because they only have to recover from several small incisions instead of a single large one. This not only reduces the amount of pain involved in surgery but also makes the procedures quicker as well. Laparoscopic and robotic surgeries are the two most common types of minimally invasive procedures available to patients today, and we use both types to perform various women’s health procedures at our clinic.
Minimally Invasive Women’s Health Surgeries
Both full and partial hysterectomies can be performed using minimally invasive techniques. If we determine that a hysterectomy is necessary due to fibroids or uterine prolapse, we will make a recommendation for either a full hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and the cervix) or a partial hysterectomy (removal of the uterus only). Even though this is a minimally invasive surgery, it will be done on an inpatient basis rather than in an outpatient setting to better monitor your recovery.
This is another minimally invasive procedure that is performed on an inpatient basis to remove fibroids from a woman’s uterus. We typically opt for a myomectomy instead of a hysterectomy for women who still want the ability to have children after the procedure. While this procedure doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to get pregnant, it does provide you a better chance at conception. An invasive procedure would take about two weeks longer for recovery than with our minimally invasive method.
A sacrocolpopexy is often performed at the same time as a hysterectomy and can be completed on a minimally invasive basis. You will be inpatient for this procedure, just as you will be for a hysterectomy. A sacrocolpopexy involves reconstructing the female sex organs following pelvic organ prolapse. Women used to have to ensure a six-inch incision to have this done, but we use minimally invasive techniques to reduce your pain level and recovery time.
Dilation and Curettage
In an outpatient setting, we can perform a dilation and curettage or D&C procedure using minimally invasive methods. This procedure is used to remove tissue from a woman’s uterus and is the preferred treatment for abnormal vaginal bleeding that has no known cause. We also perform this procedure for many women who have suffered a miscarriage to remove fetal tissue. Less often, we may perform a D&C following a uterine abortion. You’ll be able to return home after this surgery.
When you’re finished having children, you may opt for a tubal ligation, which can be performed using laparoscopic techniques. We will insert a laparoscope into a small incision, and our instruments into other small incisions to either clamp and block or sever and seal your fallopian tubes to prevent your eggs from entering and implanting in your uterus. This procedure used to require six weeks of recovery, but now you’ll be up and about in between two and four weeks.
Another procedure that can be performed on a laparoscopic basis is an ovarian cystectomy, which is used to remove cysts from your ovaries. As with tubal ligation, we’ll insert a laparoscope into one small incision and our instruments into several others so we can see the ovaries and remove the cysts without having to open your abdomen completely up. Both the tubal ligation and ovarian cystectomy surgeries are outpatient procedures, so you can expect to go home soon after.
Midurethral slings have been in use since 1996 to alleviate female stress urinary incontinence, which is often a complication of pregnancy and childbirth. They used to be placed by opening up the retropubic area and placing the mesh sling using mesh trocars. This often resulted in bladder and bowel injuries. Today, we avoid the retropubic area entirely by using a minimally invasive technique that allows us to put the mesh in place by passing it through the obturator canal.
Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)
This procedure is both a diagnostic tool and a treatment and is used to cut away an abnormal section of tissue in the vaginal area. This tissue can then be tested for cancer of the vagina or cervix. However, the removal of tissue allows healthy tissue to grow, so it acts as a treatment for abnormal cells as well. The wire loop of the LEEP device is heated by an electrical current to remove a very thin layer of cells.
Endometrial Radiofrequency Ablation
This outpatient minimally invasive surgery is used to treat abnormal menstrual blood loss. No incisions are necessary for this procedure, as a slender device that uses radiofrequency energy to destroy the endometrial tissue that lines the uterus is inserted in the vaginal canal. There’s very little recovery time required for this procedure. Endometrial radiofrequency ablation will reduce your menstrual flow, and possibly stop it altogether. Pregnancy is usually no longer an option after this procedure.
We use a minimally invasive hysteroscopy for diagnostic purposes when we need to examine the uterus or cervix, or both. A hysteroscope is a thin, lighted cannula that’s inserted into the vagina. Using this instrument, we’re able to examine your internal organs and determine treatment. We may also use a hysteroscope in combination with a D&C, laparoscopic tubal ligation, or ovarian cystectomy. As with the LEEP and endometrial radiofrequency ablation procedures, the hysteroscopy is performed in our office.
Benefits of Minimally Invasive Procedures
As previously mentioned, the primary benefit of minimally invasive procedures over open surgeries is that your incisions are smaller. Whenever we can cut through less skin to accomplish the same goal, it’s going to benefit you with a faster healing time and less pain. There are also fewer complications with smaller incisions than with large ones.
Of course, with smaller incisions come smaller scars. No one likes scars from surgery, so using minimally invasive techniques can minimize the ones you have to have when getting treated for a medical condition.
Shorter Hospital Stays
Many minimally invasive procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis compared to traditional methods that often require at least one overnight stay in the hospital. Even patients who do require an inpatient stay for a minimally invasive surgery stay fewer nights than those who undergo traditional surgery. Shorter hospital stays also translate into lower costs for the facility and you, which is another benefit of opting for a minimally invasive procedure.
Using the cameras involved in minimally invasive procedures gives surgeons a much better view of the surgical site than they can get with an open incision. They can move the camera around until they get the perfect angle to see what they need to do rather than using feel or imperfect sight to perform their technique. The cameras also allow for more delicate procedures since the surgeon is able to use advanced instruments through small incisions.
Less Internal Trauma
Traditional surgery requires an incision through muscles and ligaments, meaning your body undergoes significant trauma that requires additional time to heal. This trauma is completely avoided with minimally invasive techniques because the incisions are so small that they don’t cause much damage to muscles and ligaments at all.
Schedule an Examination
The only way to determine if you’re a candidate for one of the minimally invasive procedures we offer is to make an appointment for an examination. We’ll discuss your concerns, examine, you, and determine a course of treatment. We’ll also provide you with any alternatives you have to surgery if you prefer to go that route. Our practice is dedicated to providing compassionate care for women based on their individual needs. So, contact us at Fleur Women’s Health in Rancho Mirage, CA, today.