Minimally Invasive Gynecological Surgery

Women's Health | | Natasha Weiss
4 min read

Your reproductive health is vital for your overall health and wellbeing – at every stage and age of your life.

If you live with a reproductive health disorder, chances are you’re pretty over visits to the gynaecologist and may have big apprehensions about undergoing surgery.  

Outside of discomfort, going to the gynaecologist can be traumatizing or triggering for many people, especially those who have experienced sexual trauma, and/or birth trauma.

There are a handful of treatment routes for disorders like endometriosis, pelvic organ prolapse, and ovarian cysts. One of those treatment options is surgery. 

Of course, surgery comes with its pros, cons, and potential risks. For many people, it is the last resort option. 

But surgery doesn’t have to be as daunting and scary as it seems.

What Does Minimally Invasive Surgery Mean?

Minimally invasive gynaecological surgery is just what it sounds like – surgeries for female reproductive health issues that are less invasive than traditional methods.  

The Baylor Medicine department of Women’s Health and Maternity in Houston, Texas explains how these procedures work “In minimally invasive gynecologic surgeries, tiny scopes and surgical instruments are inserted through very small incisions (or even just a single incision) in the person’s abdomen (laparoscopic approach), or through the vagina (hysteroscopic approach and NOTES). These minimally invasive techniques eliminate the need for a large abdominal incision.”

The robotic technology that many of these providers utilize gives surgeons a magnified 3-D view so they can be even more precise with the procedure and suturing

Some of the most commonly used minimally invasive techniques include:

  • Hysteroscopy: The surgeon inserts a narrow lighted camera called a hysteroscope along with surgical instruments into the uterus via the cervix.
  • Laparoscopy: Surgical instruments and a narrow tube with a lighted camera are inserted in the pelvic area using 3-4 incisions. 
  • Robot-Assisted Laparoscopy: A high-tech robotic system provides the surgeon with high-resolution, magnified images of the surgical site. A robotic cart with arms holds the surgical instruments.
  • Single Port Surgery: This is a laparoscopic surgery using one incision in the belly button. 
  • Vaginal Technique: The surgeon accesses the surgical site via small incisions in the vagina. 

That’s a lot of options, and a huge advancement compared to older surgical methods.

What Disorders Can Be Treated with It?

If you have a reproductive health disorder that you’ve been trying to treat and are at a loss – you may be wondering if minimally invasive surgery is an option for you.

Here are some conditions that can be treated with minimally invasive surgery:

  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse: When the organs the pelvic floor holds up begin to bulge.
  • Urinary Incontinence: Yes there are treatments!
  • Uterine Fibroids: Non-cancerous growths in the uterus.
  • Ovarian Cysts: These usually disappear on their own, but they can cause complications if they don’t. 
  • Endometriosis: When the uterine lining, endometrium, grows outside of the uterus.
  • Cervical and Uterine Polyps: A small clump of cells that create bulb-like lumps on the reproductive organs. 
  • Hysterectomy: The partial or full removal of the uterus and/or surrounding organs. 
  • Sterilization: Permanent birth control options.
  • Tubal Ligation Reversal: Reversing the tying or closing off of the fallopian tubes
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: Pregnancy that implants outside of the uterus. 
  • Gynecological cancers: Including cancers of the uterus, cervix, and ovaries. 
  • Painful and Heavy Periods.
  • Postmenopausal Bleeding.

What are The Benefits? 

Newer advancements usually mean better outcomes compared to older methods. 

Here are some of the benefits of minimally invasive gynaecological surgery:

  • Less recovery time so that you can get back to your normal life faster.
  • Gives people more options: Informed choice is such a necessary tool when you’re navigating healthcare. These new methods give people more options when figuring out a treatment plan for their unique needs. 
  • The use of local anesthesia instead of going under for many procedures.
  • Less pain.
  • Less bleeding than with traditional surgery.
  • Smaller scars, some of which may not be visible at all. 
  • Lower risk of surgical complications like blood clots, infection, bowel obstructions, and internal scar tissue or adhesions.
  • Shorter hospital stays, many of these surgeries are outpatient procedures.

Now you’re starting to see just how much of a difference using these procedures can make.

What are The Risks?

Although the risks of minimally invasive surgery are a lot lower than other methods, it’s still surgery, which of course comes with certain risks. 

Here are a few of them:

  • Bleeding
  • Complications with anesthesia 
  • Infection

Finding a Provider

Finding a provider that offers these services will depend on where you live, your insurance if applicable, and your specific needs.

A quick internet search will show you what providers are available near you that offer minimally invasive gynaecological surgery. If you can do so, it may be worth it to travel a bit to find the right provider if there isn’t one near you. 

As time progresses, newer innovative surgical methods become more widely available, and more and more providers are being trained in these techniques. 

Discuss with your current provider what your options are, and always seek out a second opinion before undergoing surgery, maybe even a third or fourth opinion – it’s your body!

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