Surgery with an invisible scar: it almost sounds like science fiction. Instead, it has become a reality at the Vincent, where surgeons like David Boruta, MD, are pioneering a single-incision laparoscopy – minimally invasive surgery performed through one incision in the belly button, leaving a nearly undetectable scar.
With laparo-endoscopic single-site surgery, minimally invasive surgery’s usual three to five small incisions are reduced to just one. In the past two years, Boruta and his colleagues have performed over a hundred of these single-site surgeries. The Vincent’s gynecologic oncology fellows-in-training are now taught to perform this cutting-edge technique as well as traditional multi-incision and robotic –assisted laparoscopy.
Although the specific advantages of over traditional laparoscopic surgery require further study, Boruta notes that the skills fellows develop performing single-port surgery enhance their expertise in multiple-port surgery as well, leading to surgeons trained in the latest techniques no matter which type of minimally invasive approach is best suited to a particular patient.
The cosmetic benefits of are certainly striking. Boruta says that even though patients understand beforehand that the surgery will involve only one incision, they tend to be more impressed by it afterwards. “A lot of times they can’t even see the incision. They’ll say that their family members, and even sometimes their other doctors, insist there must be other scars.”
Of course, the medical benefits of laparoscopic care are equally impressive. Traditional surgery to treat reproductive cancer involves inches-long vertical incisions over the abdomen for removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and lymph nodes. Such major surgery requires multi-day hospital stays and weeks of recovery time. Minimally invasive surgery, whether with multiple incisions or a single one, offers patients shorter hospitalizations and recovery time, less pain, and fewer chances of post-surgical complications.
Boruta also points out that for patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation after surgery, the advantages of minimally invasive surgery surpasses being able to go home or back to work more quickly: “The quicker recovery time helps patients prepare for adjuvant therapy, because if you start from a place of strength and good health, it’s going to make a treatment easier.”
“In the same way environmentalists talk about reducing our footprint on the environment, I believe surgeons should strive to reduce their surgical footprint on each patient,” Boruta says. “Accomplishing the same procedures with less pain and more rapid recoveries is a worthwhile goal.” He notes that exploring surgical frontier such as with fellows-in-training and colleagues, “ensures the Vincent will remain a leadship position in the development and study of innovative gynecologic surgery.”