Douglas Brown, MD
Douglas Brown, MD, Chief of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery

Questions about minimally invasive surgery

What is minimally invasive surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery limits the size of incisions made for surgery, which sets it apart from traditional “open surgery”.  There are three main types of minimally invasive surgery:

  • Hysteroscopic procedures: a long, thin telescope-like instrument (called a hysteroscope) with a small video camera attached to the end is inserted through the vagina and cervix. This gives the doctor a magnified view of the uterus on a video monitor. Small surgical instruments can also be inserted through the hysteroscope to perform the procedure
  • Laparoscopic procedures: video-guided surgery. Instead of making a large incision through the skin and underlying muscles, a laparoscopic procedure requires three to four small incisions: one for a long, narrow telescope with a camera attached, and two or three others for the instruments needed to perform a procedure.
  • Robotic procedures: video-guided surgery using a tool called the da Vinci Surgical System. It is similar to a traditional laparoscopic procedure in that the surgeon makes three to four small incisions: one for a magnified, high-definition 3-D camera that guides the surgeon during the procedure, and two or three others for the robotic instruments that allow the surgeon maximum range of motion and surgical precision. It differs from a traditional laparoscopic procedure in that the surgeon controls the instruments and the camera from a console located next to the patient in the operating room

Do your surgeons perform robotic surgery?

Yes. This type of surgery has been performed at Mass General since 2008. Your physician will determine based on your specific needs whether a robotic-assisted approach may be useful in your care.

What are the advantages of minimally invasive surgery?

There are many benefits to choosing minimally invasive surgery over traditional surgery. Because it requires only tiny incisions, minimally invasive surgery results in less trauma to the body and faster recovery compared to a large open incision. In fact, the method of choice for surgeons and patients has shifted from traditional “open surgery” to less invasive means.

This is good news for patients and surgeons as it often means that patients who choose minimally invasive surgery recover faster and frequently experience:

  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Less pain after surgery
  • Less scarring
  • Faster return to work and normal activities
  • Reduced costs for patients

How many incisions will there be from my surgery?

The exact number of incisions will depend on the specifics of your surgery. Generally, there are anywhere from three to five small incisions (usually around 5mm across).

Questions about recovery

What will my recovery be like?

While the time and experience of recovery is different for every patient, in general recovery from minimally invasive surgery is much smoother than open surgery.

Most patients find that they have minimal pain. You likely won’t be able to exercise for a few weeks, but many patients are able to resume their normal activities around two weeks post-surgery.

Will I have to stay in the hospital after my surgery?

Recovery varies from patient to patient, but most patients are able to go home a few hours after their surgery is completed.

Questions about your initial appointment

How do I get ready for my initial appointment?

It’s important to come prepared for your appointment to get the most out of it.

  • Gather your records: bringing all the records related to the care you have received in the past will help your doctor understand you and your condition. You can bring hard copies or have these sent to Mass General beforehand
    NOTE: It is important to bring any imaging studies or lab results with you or have them sent before your visit so they can be reviewed by the physician before your appointment.
  • Make a list of questions: your initial consult can be a little overwhelming, so take time beforehand to think about what questions you’d like to ask the doctor about your condition, surgery and recovery
  • Consider bringing a trusted friend or family member: it can be difficult to take in all the information shared in a consult and ask all of your questions. Bringing another person who can serve as a second set of ears and take notes can be helpful, since it lets you focus on your conversation with the doctor

How can I make an appointment?

Call 855-MIGS-MGH to speak make an appointment for a consultation.

NOTE: If you have not previously seen a doctor at Mass General or within the Partners HealthCare Network, please call the Mass General Registration & Referral Center at 866-211-6588 to register before calling to make your appointment.

Questions about MIGS at Mass General

What is unique about the Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Center at Mass General?

The MIGS Center at Mass General takes a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. Our expert team of surgeons collaborates to identify the best procedure for each patient and provide the best surgical care for each patient’s unique health concerns.

Who will take care of me during my time at Mass General?

Your care team at Mass General will include physicians, nurses, social workers and other clinical staff. One advantage of receiving care at Mass General is you’ll also have access to the full resources of the hospital treatment programs in addition to your physician and surgical team.

Are your surgeons certified to perform minimally invasive surgery?

All of our surgeons are certified in obstetrics and gynecology, along their respective subspecialty. Several surgeons are specially certified to perform laparoscopic procedures by a national program called Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS). The FLS program content has been endorsed by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and is a joint educational offering together with the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons.

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