What is Laparoscopic surgery?

Laparoscopic surgery, also called minimally invasive surgery, is a modern surgical technique performed through small incisions (usually .05-1.5 centimeters) as opposed to a larger incision traditionally used for laparotomy. For gynecologic purposes, laparoscopy is an intra-abdominal procedure and is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States.

When is it used?

There are many reasons your gynecologist may recommend a laparoscopic procedure, including:

  • Evaluation of pelvic pain
  • Treatment of endometriosis
  • Treatment of ectopic pregnancy
  • Bilateral tubal ligation
  • Ovarian cystectomy
  • Oophorectomy (removal of an ovary)
  • Myomectomy (removal of a fibroid)
  • Hysterectomy

The potential advantages of laparoscopy over traditional laparotomy include:

  • Shorter operative time
  • Smaller scar
  • Faster recovery
  • Decreased adhesion formation
  • Decreased cost

How do I prepare for a Laparoscopic procedure?

Pre-operatively, your physician may order lab work and will require no eating after midnight the day prior to surgery. Surgical time will vary depending on the indication and type of procedure performed.

What happens after the procedure?

Post-operative hospital stay will also vary depending on the procedure, but most do not exceed 48 hours. What to expect:

  • Fatigue in the post-operative period. Frequent naps are helpful.
  • Mobility and walking are important to prevent certain complications. 
  • Bandages can be removed one day after surgery and incisions should be kept clean and dry.

Some pain or discomfort follows many gynecologic procedures, and severity of pain depends on the procedure performed.

  • Pain or discomfort should improve over time and can be managed with pain medications if needed.
  • Laparoscopic surgery may result in shoulder pain as a result of the gas used to expand the abdomen, and may last up to a few days after surgery.
  • Some discomfort with urination may be normal after surgery due to the use of urinary catheters during surgery.


  • Normal activities can be resumed as soon as possible.
  • Guidelines regarding other, more strenuous, activities, such as exercise, will be given by a physician.
  • Pelvic rest is recommended for at least two weeks after most gynecologic surgery.
  • Driving may be resumed once pain is controlled and narcotic pain medications are not necessary.
  • A physician will give specific recommendations regarding returning to work, but for minor procedures, this may be 2-3 days and for major procedures it may be one month.

For more information on Laparoscopic Surgery in our ARC Health Library, visit:


Developed by Austin Regional Clinic.
Last modified: 2012-7-17
Last reviewed: 2012-7-17

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

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