Laparoscopic and Open Surgery
Bariatric surgery has been performed for many decades. For many of those years, the surgery was performed as an open procedure. An open procedure means bariatric surgeons create a long incision, or cut, opening up the patient. As medical technology evolved, laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery became a possibility. With laparoscopic surgery, bariatric surgeons create small incisions. Both approaches to bariatric surgery have similar success rates in reducing excess weight and improving or resolving co-morbidities.
More on Laparoscopic Surgery
Most bariatric surgeons will perform bariatric surgery using the laparoscopic method. However, this is a decision that you and your doctor and/or bariatric surgeon must make together. An important question for patient to ask is: How many minimally invasive versus open procedures has the surgeon performed? Read below to learn more about both procedures.
Open Bariatric Surgery
Open bariatric surgery involves creating a long incision line to open the abdomen and operating with "traditional” medical instruments. Because of the incision, the patient’s stay in the hospital will be several days longer than with minimally invasive bariatric surgery. The recovery time is also much longer with open bariatric surgery. Patients will need to heal for weeks before returning to work and regular physical activities. With a longer wound, there is more of a chance of wound complications such as infections and hernias. A long incision leads to a long scar. In some cases, the open method is necessary due to some patient-specific risks.
Laparoscopic or Minimally Invasive Surgery
A laparoscopic operation involves the bariatric surgeon making several small incisions for different medical devices to be used. There are, on average, four to six ports created. The devices, including a small video camera, are inserted through the ports. Surgeons use a monitor to perform the procedure. Most laparoscopic surgeons believe this gives them a better view and excellent access to key body parts. Many patients are able to recover from the surgery in a fraction of the time that open procedures require. In fact, some return to work in little more than a week, and many are able to speed up their weight loss and quickly return to physical activity. Patients will have very small scars. There is also a lower chance of wound complications such as infection and hernia.
Your Next Step
Laparoscopic and open procedures for bariatric surgery both produce similar weight loss. However, not all patients are candidates for the laparoscopic approach to bariatric surgery, just as all bariatric surgeons are not trained to perform this less-invasive method. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery recommends that laparoscopic bariatric surgery should be performed only by bariatric surgeons who are experienced in both laparoscopic and open bariatric procedures. Here at MUSC our bariatric surgeons have extensive experience with both laparoscopic and open procedures.