What is laparoscopy?
What does it involve?
Laparoscopy is performed under general anaesthetic. The surgeon makes small incisions in the abdomen and inserts a laparoscope, which is a small camera attached to the end of a thin tube, allowing the surgeon to see inside the abdomen through a projection on a TV monitor in front of them. The surgeon uses small instruments to perform surgery, looking at the TV monitor for a clear view of the area they need to operate on.
How do you prepare for laparoscopy?
Generally, you will be asked not to eat or drink anything for 6-12 hours before the procedure. You will also be asked to stop taking blood-thinning medication a few days before the procedure takes place. If you are a smoker, your surgeon may advise you not to smoke for a few days before the procedure, as smoking can delay the healing process.
As laparoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure, you can generally go home either on the same day or the day following surgery. Someone will need to accompany you home as you will be advised not to drive for the 24 hours following the procedure.
Recovery from laparoscopy depends on the type of procedure performed. After diagnostic laparoscopy, for example, you may be able to resume normal activity after five days. If surgery is more minor, for example gallbladder removal, normal activity may be resumed in around one week. Major surgery, such as gastrectomy or esophagectomy typically takes longer – up to 12 weeks. Your surgeon will advise you on how to clean your stitches and keep wounds clean.
Expect to feel tired or somewhat drained after surgery for a few days, but this should pass as your body uses less and less energy as the recovery process goes on. If you experience any pain, you can take over-the-counter medication pain relief to reduce it.
Alternatives to laparoscopy
Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive technique which is used as an alternative to traditional open surgery. Open surgery may be necessary in certain situations and your surgeon will speak to you regarding your options before making a decision as to which type of surgery will be performed.