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The Difference between Open and Laparoscopic Surgery

I am often asked the difference between open and minimally invasive surgeryand when each is appropriate for hernia surgery and other general abdominal procedures. Ultimately, the answer can only be given after a consultation and thorough evaluation of your particular medical circumstances. Most procedures tend to be performed in a minimally invasive manner, but there are many issues that can force us to perform an open procedure, such as prior surgery or certain medications.


The difference between the two procedures is significant, but revolves around the way the abdomen is accessed. Open surgery requires a large single incision that cuts through the abdominal muscle and wall often meaning longer recovery times and a greater potential for pain, blood loss and infection. Minimally invasive surgery, on the other hand, uses several tiny incisions in the abdomen that allow specially made long-handled medical devices access to the surgical field. This often shortens recovery time significantly as well as leading to less pain and lessening the chance of infection.

However, while minimally invasive surgery seems like the perfect solution to everyone, not every patient is suited to this newer method. For example, patients who have had prior surgeries in the same area may have a build-up of scar tissue. That may not allow us to enter the abdomen with minimally invasive tools. Scar tissue inside the abdomen may make surgery difficult and unsafe to proceed laparoscopically. Patients, who take blood thinners, may have an increased risk of bleeding when certain procedures are performed laparoscopically compared to open surgery. Ultimately, the appropriateness of minimally invasive surgery depends on the patient.

Learning more about the different options, with regard to minimally invasive versus open surgery, is a great first step for preparing yourself for your first consultation. Contact our office to schedule a consultation and learn more about minimally invasive versus traditional open surgery for the procedure that you may need.

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