Laura Langolf was tired of being in pain. Her menstrual cycle caused disabling pain in her back and excessive bleeding; she also experienced pain during intercourse and pelvic pain in general.
Though her physician had recommended a hysterectomy, she didn’t want a traditional open surgery, which involves removing the uterus through an incision in the abdomen. “I wanted to have a minimally invasive surgery because I couldn’t take a lot of time off of work,” she says.
Laura found exactly what she was looking for at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. Last year, she underwent a laparoscopic hysterectomy. Instead of an eight-inch long scar across her lower abdomen, Laura has only three tiny scars.
“It was amazing,” she says. “I don’t have pain anymore. And the scars are nothing, about a half inch long at most. You don’t even notice them.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.1 million patients underwent hysterectomy between 2000 and 2004, second only to Caesarean section among the most common women’s surgeries. In a previous study of hysterectomies performed from 1995 and 1999, the majority of patients underwent hysterectomy via an abdominal incision as opposed to more minimally invasive approaches. However, increased usage of laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy, a minimally invasive technique, also doubled during that time, from 13 percent of hysterectomies in 1994 to 28 percent in 1999.
The growth in the use of minimally invasive gynecologic surgeries has continued since then, especially at Beaumont. In fact, Benjamin Chen, M.D., an OB/GYN physician at Beaumont, Grosse Pointe, says that most of the surgeries he performs are minimally invasive, including traditional laparoscopic and robotic surgical approaches.
“It’s surprising to hear that more surgeries aren’t done using minimally invasive techniques,” says Dr. Chen. “About 90 percent of the surgeries I perform are minimally invasive.”
That makes sense, says Theodoros Vlachos, M.D., Vice Chair of Gynecology at Beaumont, Royal Oak. He says minimally invasive gynecological surgeries have a number of benefits to the patient, including:
- faster recovery
- less pain
- less blood loss
- smaller incisions, less scarring
- shorter hospital stay
- earlier return to normal activity
“Whether using robotic or traditional laparoscopic methods, these surgeries are usually preferred by the patient and her surgeon,” says Dr. Vlachos. “Mainly, the recovery is easier and shorter for the patients. With abdominal surgeries, the time to recover can be cut from six to eight weeks to one or two weeks.”
Dr. Chen agrees. “I’ve had patients who call me a week after surgery, asking if they can return to work because they feel better.”
Minimally invasive gynecologic surgeries are offered at Beaumont for the following conditions:
- painful or heavy periods
- chronic pelvic pain
- fibroid tumors
- tubal ligation
- uterine prolapse
- gynecological cancer
When choosing a hospital for gynecological surgery, Dr. Vlachos recommends taking into consideration the number of minimally invasive gynecological procedures that are performed annually at the facility as well as the level of expertise of the surgeon.
As for Laura, she did just that. After her surgery was performed by Dr. Vlachos, she spent two days in the hospital before returning home. She was back at work and regular activities in less than a month.
“I feel wonderful,” she says. “I’m so glad I had my surgery at Beaumont.”