Explore This Treatment


Laparoscopic procedures are minimally invasive, which accomplish the same goal as traditional open procedures. The goal of a liver resection is to remove a liver mass (benign or cancerous) safely and efficiently. Compared to an open procedure, a laparoscopic approach provides patients with smaller incisions, which allows for a faster recovery and better cosmetic result. Patients often have less pain and are able to get back to their normal activity sooner.

Our specialists work collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team of physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital to determine the treatment plan that is best for each patient.

What happens during this procedure, and how long does it take?

After the patient is put to sleep with general anesthesia, anywhere from three to seven small incisions are made to remove the liver mass. Depending on the number and locations of the lesions, and how much liver needs to be removed, the procedure can take anywhere from one to seven hours.

What preparation is required before the procedure?

Patients are encouraged to maintain a physically active lifestyle and to minimize their alcohol intake in the weeks leading up to surgery. Patients will meet with their surgeon to go over the specific steps that are required prior to the procedure. Most patients are given a gentle bowel preparation to facilitate moving the colon during the operation. The gentle bowel prep also helps avoid postoperative constipation.

What is the recovery time?

Patients will spend one to six nights in the hospital depending on the extent of their liver operation. Based on the procedure, a surgeon will discuss the specifics of the postoperative recovery period with each patient. Since the liver regenerates, the recovery will depend on how much of the patient’s liver needs to re-grow. Most patients will experience significant fatigue for two to four weeks after the operation. Pain is controlled with ibuprofen and low-dose narcotic pain medicine.

What can affect outcomes?

Patients who are physically stronger usually have an easier recovery after the procedure. Walking for 15-30 minutes daily preoperatively and postoperatively speeds recovery. Patients should limit alcohol intake and other substances toxic to the liver before and after the operation. Your physician will help you identify any supplements or medications that may burden your liver.

How safe is the procedure?

Patients in general tolerate the procedure very well. There are risks with any significant procedure. However, many studies have demonstrated that outcomes are better in hospitals, such as Mass General, that perform a high volume of procedures. These risks will be outlined by a surgeon in detail prior to performing any surgical procedure.

Why Mass General?

Mass General is consistently ranked among the best hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Our surgeons are accustomed to seeing both local and international patients with multiple medical conditions, and have extensive experience performing complex hepatobiliary and laparoscopic operations.

Laparoscopic vs. Open Liver Procedure

Is a laparoscopic approach best for all patients?

We try to offer all patients a laparoscopic liver procedure, however based on the location of the lesion and/or prior operations the patient has undergone, a laparoscopic approach may not be the best approach for every patient.

Will I recover faster with a laparoscopic procedure?

Compared to an open procedure, patients may have less pain, and are able to move around quicker and more often after a laparoscopic operation. Patients often require lower doses of pain medications, due to the decreased pain with a laparoscopic procedure. A significant component of a patient's recovery is dictated by the amount of liver that needs to regenerate. A laparoscopic approach does not make a difference in the amount of liver regeneration needed.

If my liver mass is cancerous, do you perform the procedure open or laparoscopically?

Our goal is always to keep the patient safe and to perform the best possible surgery. Whether the procedure is open or laparoscopic, our goals remain the same.