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Bariatric Surgery


Bariatric Surgery: Open Versus Minimally Invasive 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 a surgeon creates a long incision, or cut, opening up the patient. As medical technology evolved, laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery became a possibility. With laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon creates small incisions. Both approaches have similar success rates in reducing excess weight and improving or resolving co-morbidities.

Most surgeons will perform bariatric surgery using the laparoscopic method. However, this is a decision that the doctor and patient must make together. An important question for patients 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 surgery involves the surgeon 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 surgery. The recovery time is also longer. Patients generally will need to heal for several 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 Bariatric Surgery

A laparoscopic operation involves 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. The surgeon uses a monitor to perform the procedure. Most laparoscopic surgeons believe this gives them a good view and access to key body parts. Many patients are able to recover from the surgery in a shorter time than open procedures require. In fact, some return to work in little more than a week, and many are able to quickly return to physical activity. Patients generally have very small scars. There is also a lower chance of wound complications such as infection and hernia.

Your Next Step regarding your Bariatric Surgery

Laparoscopic and open procedures for bariatric surgery both produce similar weight loss. However, not all patients are candidates for the laparoscopic approach, just as all bariatric surgeons are not trained to perform this less-invasive method. The American Society for Bariatric Surgery recommends that laparoscopic bariatric surgery should be performed only by surgeons who are experienced in both laparoscopic and open bariatric procedures.

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