This information describes your laparoscopic surgery.

Introduction

A laparoscopy is an operation. It uses a tiny video camera that is placed through a small incision. Other instruments are inserted through two or three more small incisions. This lets the doctor:

  • See your organs
  • See if something looks abnormal
  • Take biopsies
  • Do other procedures Figure 1. Figure 1.

The advantages of this kind of surgery are:

  • Less pain
  • Less bleeding
  • Earlier discharge
  • Faster return to normal activities 

Organs are only touched with small instruments, and the incisions are small. Most patients resume walking, eating, and drinking fluids within 24 hours.

Your procedure may be done as an inpatient or as an outpatient. If you are an inpatient, you will go back to your room when you are discharged from the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). If you are going home after the procedure, wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes. Your abdomen may be a little swollen or sore. A friend or relative must take you home. This is because you will be drowsy from the anesthesia for a few hours.

Your nurse will give you a booklet and fact card telling you how to prepare for surgery. Your nurse and doctor will give you more information specific to your procedure.

The Laparoscopy Figure 2. Figure 2.

You will be taken into the operating room (OR) and helped onto the OR table. The anesthesiologist will begin your anesthesia and monitor you throughout the procedure. Once you are asleep, a catheter will be placed into your bladder to drain urine. A tube may be placed through your nose or mouth into your stomach to drain its contents. These are usually removed in the operating room. 

Your surgeon will begin by making a small cut near the navel. A pointed tube will be inserted. Carbon dioxide gas will be put into the abdomen through this tube to expand the area. The gas pushes out the abdomen and causes the organs to move away from each other (Figure 1). That lets the surgeon insert a small telescope, which is attached to a video camera. It projects a large picture of the organs on a television screen (Figure 2). You will have at least two small incisions. If you need to have a biopsy or other procedures, more small incisions will be made. Figure 3 shows an example of the location of incisions and the size of incisions in millimeters.

Your surgeon may do the operation with a robotic device. This is called a Robotic Assisted Laparoscopy. This device holds the camera and some other instruments. Your surgeon controls it to help with precise surgical movements. Figure 3. Figure 3.

When the laparoscopy is done, the carbon dioxide is released from the abdomen. The tiny incisions are closed with stitches that dissolve. You may also have some skin glue on top of the incisions that will peel off in one to two weeks. You will then be taken to the PACU. A nurse will watch you closely and check you often. When you are fully awake, you will either be brought to your room or discharged home.

After the Laparoscopy

Pain after a laparoscopy varies. Many patients have shoulder pain, which is a common side effect of distending your abdomen. This can range from mild to severe and may last for seven to ten days. Pain from the incisions is usually mild and can last for several days. Your doctor or nurse will tell you what you can take to control your pain. They will give you specific instructions about your pain management, diet, activities, and how to care for your incision before you are discharged. The following are general instructions.

  • Avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours after surgery.
  • Rest on the day of the procedure; you will be drowsy as a result of the anesthesia.
  • Depending how you feel the next day, you may resume your normal activities.
  • Do not drive a car for at least 24 hours after the surgery because your reflexes will be impaired.
  • Avoid strenuous activity for at least one week.
  • Please call your doctor's office for a follow-up appointment.

Additional Instructions

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Caring for Your Incision

You can take off the bandages covering your incisions 24 hours after surgery. They do not need to be replaced. You may shower after you remove the bandages. Leaving the incisions exposed to the air will promote healing. Under these bandages you will have stitches, Steri-strip® (paper tape closures), or skin glue. The Steri-strip® closures will fall off by themselves in seven to ten days. The skin glue will also fall in seven to ten days. Any visible stitches will be taken out during your follow-up visit.

Call Your Doctor If You Have:

  • A fever of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
  • Pain not relieved by medicine
  • Redness around or drainage from your incision(s)
  • Severe abdominal bloating or swelling