Laparoscopic surgery does not convert a major operation into a minor one. The surgery is still considered major, but the recovery time is quicker, because of the smaller incisions.

How laparoscopy is carried out

Laparoscopy is carried out under General Anesthesia, so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure.During laparoscopy, the surgeon makes one or more small incisions in the abdomen. These allow the surgeon to insert the laparoscope, small surgical tools, and a tube used to pump gas into the abdomen. This makes it easier for the surgeon to look around and operate.

After the procedure, the gas is let out of your abdomen, the incisions are closed using stitches and a dressing is applied.You can often go home on the same day of your laparoscopy, although you may need to stay in hospital for a day or more depending on the surgery done.

Treating conditions

Laparoscopic surgery can be used to treat a number of different conditions, including:

  • Removing an inflamed appendix – in cases of appendicitis where there’s a high risk of the appendix bursting
  • Gallbladder removal (Cholecystectomy) – often used to treat gallbladder stones
  • Removing a section of the intestine – often used to treat digestive conditions, such as Ulcerative Colitis or Diverticulitis, that don’t respond to medication
  • Repairing Hernias – such as those found in the groin and abdominal wall around the umbilicus.
  • Repairing burst or bleeding peptic ulcers in the stomach
  • Performing Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery (Obesity and Diabetes Surgery)
  • Removing some or all of an organ affected by cancer – such as the ovaries, prostate, liver, colon, kidney or bladder

Recovery

After laparoscopy, you may feel groggy and disoriented as you recover from the effects of the anaesthetic. Some people feel sick or vomit. These are common side effects of the anaesthetic and should pass quickly.

You’ll be monitored by a nurse for a few hours until you’re fully awake and able to eat, drink and pass urine.

Before you leave hospital, you’ll be told how to keep your wounds clean and when to return for a follow-up appointment or have your stitches removed (although self-dissolving sutures are often used).

For a few days after the procedure, you’re likely to feel some pain and discomfort where the incisions were made, and you may also have a sore throat if a breathing tube was used. You’ll be given pain killing medication to help ease the pain.

Some of the gas used to inflate your abdomen can remain inside your abdomen after the procedure, which can cause:

  • Bloating, cramps
  • Shoulder pain, as the gas can irritate your diaphragm (the muscle you use to breathe), which in turn can irritate nerve endings in your shoulder.These symptoms are nothing to worry about and should pass after a day or so, once your body has absorbed the remaining gas.

In the days or weeks after the procedure, you’ll probably feel more tired than usual, as your body is using a lot of energy to heal itself. Taking regular naps may help.

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    Dr. Jane Patterson is a board certified Family Medicine physician who provides primary care

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