Patients who have undergone laparoscopic surgery tell of different stories. They have varying views and opinions. Some say it is a harrowing experience, while others consider laparoscopy a minor surgery. It really all depends on the individual, because every human being responds differently to surgery.
However, most health experts hold the notion that laparoscopy, being minimally invasive, is a minor surgery. Hence, recovery should be possible within days. Sometimes, however, it can takes months for a complete recovery.
Performed under general anesthesia, laparoscopy is a technique that lets surgeons access the abdomen and pelvis without making large incisions in the skin. This is because the procedure uses a laparoscope, a long, thin tube with a light and a camera attached to it. The laparoscope's camera transmits images of the stomach or pelvic organs to a computer screen.
The procedure begins with a small incision made in the lower part of the abdomen, near the navel. The surgeon fills the abdomen with CO2 gas, which makes the abdomen rise and slightly move away from the other internal organs, giving the surgeon an unobstructed view of the organs he needs to reach. Slowly and carefully, the surgeon inserts an illuminated laparoscope through the abdominal wall and into the abdomen or pelvis. The laparoscope relays the images to an electronic monitor, which allows surgeons a good view of internal organs.
Laparoscopy has many benefits:
- It allows doctors to have a clear view of the abdominal or pelvic organs. Without laparoscopy, it would be impossible to get a close look at internal organs without cutting a large opening in the skin.
- It enables doctors to detect endometriosis lesions as well as endometriomas (endometriosis-filled cysts), bonds, and other disorders.
- It enables doctors to perform a uterus examination commonly known as hysteroscopy.
- The doctor is able to detect fibroid tumors or any other unusual occurrences.
- Doctors may obtain tissue samples to send for biopsy in the laboratory.
Duration of the surgery
Laparoscopy, being a minor surgery, is usually undergone on an outpatient basis. However, if there are complications in the abdomen, the surgery may take more than a day.
Worries and uncertainties
We all dread surgeries. No matter how brave we try to be while preparing for surgery, deep down there is always that fear of undergoing a surgery. The best way to alleviate fear is to address it head-on. Be specific in your fears and address them. For instance, if it is pain that is worrying you, talk to your doctor about the pain and ask him or her how pain can be minimized. If it is the anesthesia you are afraid of, talk to an anesthesiologist, who can shed more light on the topic, thereby minimizing your worries. These initiatives will build your courage for undergoing the surgery. People generally fear the unknown--have all the facts about the procedure and your worries should melt away.
Things to carry to the hospital
Take with you loose, comfortable clothes to change into after the surgery. If there are high chances that you may be spending the night in the hospital, it is important that you carry toothpaste, a toothbrush, and other personal effects that you may need during your stay.
On the eve of the surgery, doctors will recommend a liquid diet to prepare you for the surgery. This may not be pleasant, but it is vital for a successful surgery. This is because liquid diet makes the bowel light. This makes it easier for the laparoscope to move easily in the abdomen.
Pain when you are out of anesthesia
Once the anesthesia is gone from your bloodstream, the reality of having just undergone a surgery hits you. You may feel some pain, in which case you should ask to see the doctor or a nurse. It is also common to feel cold once you come out of anesthesia. And because the surgeon inserts an airway in your throat to help you breathe while the surgery is performed, you may experience a sore throat. If the pain you experience becomes unbearable, inform the doctor or nurse. Normally, the doctor will give you some painkillers to take home.
Have a friend with you
After the surgery, it becomes hard or even impossible to drive back home. This is why you need a friend to drive you home. Furthermore, during the next few days you won't be able to resume your normal activities yet, which is why you should have prearranged for someone, perhaps a friend or relative, to be with you at home in the days following the surgery. Beyond the practical necessity of a companion to help you out, friends offer emotional and spiritual support. Research has shown that moral and emotional support helps patients cope with the situation, therefore hastening healing.
The next doctor’s appointment
The doctor should examine you after the surgery. Normally, you should see the doctor between two to six weeks after the surgery. Remember that even if you are feeling fine, you should not neglect going for your follow-up visit with your doctor. Conditions such as endometriosis require a long-term treatment plan that you should discuss with your doctor on the first post-operation visit.
Should I have my stitches removed?
You should not remove stitches. They will dissolve on their own as the healing takes place. remember, though, that it is important to keep the stitches covered for the next two days after surgery to prevent the wound from getting infected. If you notice any kind of strange swelling, seek your doctor's advice.
Is there a possibility of having scars?
It is normal for the incision to appear red at first, but the redness will disappear as time goes by. In some rare cases, a thick scar develops.
Steps to take for the quick healing of the incision
After surgery, it will be your foremost wish to recover and have your life go back to normal. Moreover, you will want the incision to heal as fast as possible and not leave a scar on your body. You need about one year for the incision to completely heal. Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight as it may make the incision heal slowly and cause it to darken. If you have to go out with the incision exposed, always use an effective sunscreen. Always eat healthy foods, and stay hydrated, and before engaging in any physical activities, always consult your doctor. Furthermore, you will need plenty of rest for a quick recovery.
The Dos and Don’ts after the surgery
After the surgery:
- Do not drive a car in the next 48 hours as anesthesia causes dizziness and drowsiness.
- Do not stay in bed the whole day; instead, go easy on yourself and avoid heavy and stressful tasks.
- Take a bath only after 48 hours.
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluid.
- On the first days, eat liquid foods to avoid stomach upset.
- Avoid citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons.
- Resume your normal diet after the second day.
- Do not engage in sports or use heavy equipment.
Most prescription drugs cause constipation; therefore, it is important to drink plenty of water and eat a lot of vegetables and non-citrus fruits.
When to seek medical help
By observing the above-mentioned guidelines, a quick recovery is practically guaranteed. However, quickly call your doctor if you notice the following:
- Bleeding from the vagina
- Pus in the incision site
- Pain that does not go even after taking painkillers
- Vomiting on the first day