Minimally invasive technique helps reduce pain, shorten recovery

Traditional or "open" bariatric surgery requires a 6- to 8-inch incision and approximately four weeks of recuperation. Using minimally invasive surgical techniques in select patients, however, Cleveland Clinic bariatric surgeons can perform the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass procedure without opening the abdomen.

The procedure involves making five small openings (approximately 1-2 inches in size) in the abdomen. These openings allow the surgeon to pass a light, camera and surgical instruments into the abdomen. The abdomen is inflated with gas (carbon dioxide) to allow the surgeon to get a better view of the stomach and internal structures. Surgical instruments about the width of a pencil are placed into the abdomen to complete the surgery.

In a Roux-en-Y procedure, more than two-thirds of the stomach is "bypassed" and a small portion (large enough to hold a cup of liquid) remains functional. In some cases, the surgeon may find it necessary to convert from laparoscopic to open surgery. The surgeon bases this decision on various factors, including the patient’s safety and the opportunity to achieve the best possible outcome.

The minimally invasive approach achieves results comparable to those associated with open surgery, but with less post-operative pain and swifter recovery. Patients who undergo laparoscopic bypass surgery can return to work after two weeks. Laparoscopic surgery also reduces the risk of developing hernias, which are more common after traditional abdominal surgery.

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

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