Laparoscopic surgery utilizes a camera and long slender instruments placed within the abdomen to perform a particular operation. It is a means of access to the abdomen. This is in contrast to the traditional open incision, which is usually a large cut down the middle of the abdomen.
Because of the smaller incisions used with laparoscopic surgery, postoperative pain is less. Patients are also able to get up and ambulate faster since they have less pain and are most often able to go home from the hospital sooner. In addition, with the smaller incisions, the body perceives less injury and less stress hormones are released that can be detrimental to healing.
Mortality and complication rates are the same or better with laparoscopic surgery. The incidence of wound infections and hernias after laparoscopic surgery is neglible. This is in comparison to open surgery with hernia rates as high as 20% and wound infections of 13%. There is also a decrease in adhesion formation with less risk of bowel obstruction in the future with laparoscopic surgery.
Laparoscopic bariatric surgery provides comparable weight loss and similar resolution of co-morbidities to the traditional open surgery. The leak rate (< 1%) and risk of pulmonary embolus (0.5-1%) are equivalent. Whenever an operation is attempted laparoscopically there is always a risk of not being able to complete the procedure with the camera and the open incision may need to be made. The risk of conversion to the open method is approximately 10% depending of the patient's prior surgical history. The surgery is still completed at that time during the same anesthesia and the recovery would be expected to be similar to the open method.