Laparoscopy - How it's performed 

How laparoscopy is performed 

Pre-operative assessments

Before an operation, you will be asked to do a pre-operative assessment. Find out what this involves and how it helps reduce any risks during your operation.

Media last reviewed: 14/11/2013

Next review due: 14/11/2015

Robotic-assisted laparoscopy

A relatively recent development in laparoscopy is the use of robots to assist with procedures. This is known as "robotic-assisted laparoscopy".

During robotic-assisted laparoscopy, your surgeon will use a console located in the operating theatre to carry out the procedure by controlling robotic arms. The robotic arms hold a special camera and surgical equipment.

Robotic-assisted laparoscopy means surgeons can carry out laparoscopic procedures with increased precision and smaller incisions, as the equipment used tends to be smaller.

Robotic-assisted laparoscopy also tends to have a lower risk of complications than regular laparoscopy, as well as a shorter recovery time.

Laparoscopy is performed under general anaesthetic, so you will be unconscious throughout the procedure and have no memory of it. You can often go home on the same day.

Preparation

Depending on the type of laparoscopic procedure being performed, you will usually be asked not to eat or drink anything for 6-12 hours beforehand.

If you're taking blood-thinning medication (anticoagulants), such as aspirin or warfarin, you may be asked to stop taking it a few days beforehand. This is to prevent excessive bleeding during the operation.

If you smoke, you may be advised to stop during the lead-up to the operation. This is because smoking can delay healing after surgery and increase the risk of complications such as infection.

Most people can leave hospital either on the day of the procedure or the following day. Before the procedure, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home because you will be advised not to drive for at least 24 hours afterwards.

The procedure

During laparoscopy, the surgeon will make a small cut (incision) of around 1-1.5cm (0.4-0.6 inches), which is usually placed near your belly button.

A tube is inserted through the incision, and carbon dioxide gas is pumped through the tube to inflate your tummy (abdomen). Inflating your abdomen allows the surgeon to see your organs more clearly and gives them more room to work. A laparoscope is then inserted through this tube. The laparoscope will relay images to a television monitor in the operating theatre, giving the surgeon a clear view of the whole area.

If the laparoscopy is used to carry out a surgical treatment, such as removing your appendix, further incisions will be made in your abdomen. Small, surgical instruments can be inserted through these incisions, and the surgeon can guide them to the right place using the view from the laparoscope. Once in place, the instruments can be used to carry out the required treatment.

After the procedure, the carbon dioxide is let out of your abdomen, the incisions are closed using stitches or clips and a dressing is applied.

When laparoscopy is used to diagnose a condition, the procedure usually takes 30-60 minutes. It will take longer if the surgeon is treating a condition, depending on the type of surgery being carried out.

Recovery

After laparoscopy, you may feel groggy and disorientated as you recover from the effects of the anaesthetic. Some people feel sick or vomit. These are common side effects of the anaesthetic and should pass quickly.

Before you leave hospital, you will be told how to keep your wounds clean and when to return for a follow-up appointment or have your stitches removed (although dissolvable stitches are often used).

For a few days after the procedure, you're likely to feel some pain and discomfort where the incisions were made, and you may also have a sore throat if a breathing tube was used. You will be given painkilling medication to help ease the pain.

Some of the gas used to inflate your abdomen can remain inside your abdomen after the procedure, which can cause:

  • bloating
  • cramps
  • shoulder pain, as the gas can irritate your diaphragm (the muscle you use to breathe), which in turn can irritate nerve endings in your shoulder

These symptoms are nothing to worry about and should pass after a day or so, once your body has absorbed the remaining gas.

In the days or weeks after the procedure, you will probably feel more tired than usual, as your body is using a lot of energy to heal itself. Taking regular naps may help.

Recovery times

The time it takes to recover from laparoscopy is different for everybody. It depends on factors such as the reason the procedure was carried out (whether it was used to diagnose or treat a condition), your general health and if any complications develop.

If you have had laparoscopy to diagnose a condition, you will probably be able to resume your normal activities within five days.

The recovery period after laparoscopy to treat a condition depends on the type of treatment. After minor surgery, such as appendix removal, you may be able to resume normal activities within two weeks. Following major surgery, such as removal of your ovaries or kidney due to cancer, the recovery time may be as long as 12 weeks.

Your surgical team can give you more information about when you will be able to resume normal activities.

When to seek medical advice

It's usually recommended that someone stays with you for the first 24 hours after surgery. This is in case you experience any symptoms that suggest there could be a problem, such as:

  • a high temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above
  • chills
  • increasing abdominal pain
  • redness, pain, swelling and discharge around your wounds
  • pain and swelling in one of your legs
  • a burning or stinging sensation when urinating

If you experience any of these symptoms during your recovery, you should contact either the hospital where the procedure was carried out, your GP or NHS 111 for advice.




Page last reviewed: 28/02/2014

Next review due: 28/02/2016

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Comments

The 22 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Tazzy2 said on 31 July 2014

I have been booked in for a Laporotomy on 15th Sept to remove both ovaries, (Dermoid Cyst related), however nothing has been explained and I am terrified. Can anyone tell me what I need to ask the pre-op clinic as I cannot think straight. Also what should I expect? All this has been so sudden as I only saw the Gynacologist for the first time yesterday .

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Aucklander said on 23 May 2014

Hey. So glad I stumbled across this website. The information is great as well as the members experiences.
Scheduled in for a laparoscopy in a few weeks and I'm a bag of nerves ! :(
Will keep you updated ! Hope everyone's surgery went well :)

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RRMM said on 19 January 2014

Hi, can someone please help.... I'm having Laparoscopy surgery tomorrow and just started my period :(
Will they go ahead ? Im so nervous...i have been waiting for this surgery for last 9 months and now after all my pain and appointments....i don't wanna reschedule...
Thanks

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Sue13 said on 18 November 2013

Hi I am 40 years old and had my first laparoscopy to remove cyst related to endometriosis. Recovery was 2 weeks but the pain after surgery was very strong. I was only on paracetamol since I do not like taking any medicinals. If I had something stronger as pain reliever I would have been better for sure. Anyway the procedure if a simple one and anyone who will be undergoing this surgery specifically like mine removing cyst I really encourage you so you do not be afraid! People manage to say so many things and scare the heck out of you. The important things that you will listen to the doctor and nurse when they are explaining procedure.

I have one quick question for anyone who did laparoscopy I have one of my sides stitches has a node underneath doctor said its nothing but it is bothering me and it is still sore a month has passed since my surgery. Is this normal?

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Cheesy Wotsit said on 10 October 2013

Hi everyone.
I'm due for a Lap on 18th October and am scared stiff. I have a phobia of needles, I'm overweight and looking (yes I know) at Google pictures, it looks like my incisions could be awkward. I'm assuming the surgical team/nurses will be able to deal with this? Also, should I be able to be back in work on the Monday? What have been your experiences? Thanks

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MelissaJade said on 20 September 2013

Hi everyone , I'm 21 and have just had my 2nd laperoscapy this time to remove the endo the first time was just to diagnose it , it's been a struggle getting to this point but I'm hoping once I recover to get better , the lap itself I wouldn't worry about, What we go through with the pain every month is far worse! Stay strong and good luck!!

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kellymariee7 said on 23 August 2013

Hi lucy Helena,

I udnerstand your fears, I was scared for my Lap..it went really well and the side effects and recovery were alot better than I expected after researching online, if theres any advise I can give you it is not to google things!! I am having another one on 4th sept (2 days after yours") and have no fears atall. In regards to Endometriosis you will be spurised how easily treated and how quick the relief is!! It is totally worth getting it sorted out asap, you wont regret it. Good luck!!!

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LucyHelena said on 31 July 2013

Hiya Missy 7
I know how you feel I am 21 years old and just been put on the waiting list for a laparoscopy for suspected endometriosis. I am so scared of the thought of surgery and I really hope nothing goes wrong!

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MISSY 7 said on 29 July 2013

I am 20 years of age and I am booked in for a laparoscopy on September 2nd 20013 for suspected Endometriosis and I am really scared because I am only 20 years old can anyone give me advise

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BarbWire said on 01 July 2013

Hi all,
My doctor has referred me for a lap as they suspect endometriosis, and I'm absolutely terrified, especially for the reason that I have so many allergies and I am severely allergic to all anaesthetics on the amino esters side (this was found out after I had a severe allergic reaction to PPD Hair dye which is chemically related to amino esters, benzocaine, procaine etcetera), I can only safely have amino amides (lidocaine and related anaesthetics) Is it possible for the hospital to concoct me a anaesthetic that will meet these needs very carefully. It would be fatal if I received any esters. I'm also scared about the whole procedure!

When I had my ultrasounds, xrays and ct scans, the doctors found something on my right ureter, I had a following ct scan and it had disappeared, possibly endometriosis. I suffer bladder, bowel problems and painful heavy periods and a lot of pain in my legs and back, on top of this I have allergies and pain throughout my body, I'm just so fed up and depressed, most of all I'm very scared.

I would extremely appreciate if anyone here could share their experiences and if they suffer allergies to anaesthetics and what alternatives they received.
Thank you.

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lisak3 said on 18 May 2013

Hi everyone.
I had my first lap done on weds (3 days ago) and I was honestly terrified of going in hospital and being put to sleep, my BP was massive and I was crying etc..I know its silly but thought i'd share my experience.
I was fine, the nurses were absolutely great from the moment I went in the anesthesiest came to speak to me to explain what he would do and so did the surgeon, the bit I was most terrified of was going to sleep, but it was fine, they give you a drug to relax you so when its time to go to sleep you feel quite relaxed and its true before you know it your waking up in recovery! My lap confirmed I have endometriosis although the only symptom I have is severe pain in my left side. I feel fine now but a little sore around the cut in my belly button and the shoulder pain (gas) comes and goes but nothing major, i feel just very tired. To MISS LMI I have kids and although I can get about doin something simple like walking the dog I am finding exhausting, if you do go to Legoland, have a fab time but be prepared to be sitting in the cafe with a cuppa rather than rides/walking round etc. Hope my posts helps calm at least one person as i have honestly never been as nervous about anything LOL x

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User772007 said on 10 May 2013

Hi MissLmi, I had a Laparoscopy last wed and i am still struggling to get about. It can take 10 days for the gas to go away fully and thats where majority of ur pain comes from. Right after ur op make sure u have either peppermint water or mints. Drink tea aswell as all of these help to break up the gas. You might be pushing it to go to legoland 3 days after ur op.

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MissLmi said on 30 April 2013

Hi all, I'm due to go in for a laparoscopy/hysteroscopy for endometriosis in June.It's my sons birthday that week and we are going to legoland 3 days after my surgery. Does anyone think this will be too much? I've not had anything like this done before. Thanks

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Ambogirl said on 06 April 2013

Hi mini me. I've just been reading the site and have noticed your comment. I hope I'm not too late, if you've had your lap I hope it went well.
I wanted to say I felt exactly the same as you. I had mine just over a week ago, it was the first time I'd ever had to go into hospital for anything and I was petrified of being put to sleep, no matter what anyone told me, I just couldn't stop thinking the worst was going to happen. I know it's really easy to say, but don't be scared. It's fine. It's really normal to feel the way you do and once I arrived at the hospital I was surprised that everyone was feeling exactly the same as me, so I felt a lot less lonely. The staff are great, it's what they do, they know you're going to be nervous and, the being put to sleep bit is actually not a bad feeling at all. Before I knew it I was waking up in recovery. The shoulder pain afterwards was the sorest bit for me but that went after 2 days. I've been resting since then, the wounds are sore but, nothing you can't cope with. Take the pain relief, keep your wounds clean and dry and get everyone to run around after you for a week or so and you'll be back to normal in no time. Good luck, you'll be fine. ??

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minni me said on 02 April 2013

hi everyone I was just looking for some advice and reassurance, I'm due to go for a lap in a couple of days and I'm terrified of being put to sleep. I cant stop thinking about it, I cant eat or sleep its all I think about. I'm a bag of nerves all the time. im more scared of the lap than the results. stupid I know but I cant help it. any help or advice would be great thanks.

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Laurajcoombs123 said on 08 December 2012

I just had a laparoscopy to diagnose for endometriosis, I'm 25 an it's been confirmed I have it bad in my bowel so got to go back for another op in three months time an I've got to take a series of injections before hand which make you feel like your going through menopause so sounds horrible! Anyway after coming out of surgery i suprisngly felt fine apart from when i got home the gas was killing my shoulders. day 1 after lap I'm feeling very tender an tired so an my shoulder is still killing, its best to rest an only you know when you feel well enough after all you just had an operation!

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crisfca said on 02 December 2012

The nurse at the pre-assesment told me I should be ok going back to work on Monday after having the laparoscopy and dye test on Friday but a keep reading about weeks, and sick notes etc....! I hope the nurse is right cause I cannot take time off,

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mamakaykay said on 04 November 2012

Hi, I had emergency laproscopic surgery Oct 2012 for suspected Appendicitis, turned out to be a burst ovarian cyst. Surgery went well. Day 5 of recovery today. Feel ok in my self but my stomach/incision areas are still very tender and I can't go without the pain killers yet. Had quite a bit of trouble getting my bowels working again too, so please make sure you have something in the medicine cabinet to help with this straight away! Going for gentle strolls and doing light things round the house. Hospital gave me a sick note for 2 weeks which I think will definitely be needed for anyone having this type of surgery. Hope this post helps :-)

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Bluebell36 said on 31 August 2012

This is going to sound so ridiculous but can you wear any underwear, especially on the bottom half? I'm dreading the thought of possibly being on a very heavy period during this time. I know I really shouldn't be fretting about something that minor but... I am!!

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bctmffl said on 18 August 2012

I have a hiatus hernia, diagnosed finally by an endoscopy. I have tried different medications, although none of them work. Can I ask my gp to refer me for surgery? It affects my life quite extensively. Thanks.

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abdominal_pain said on 20 July 2012

Samreenshinde
I've had three laparoscopies for endometriosis, the first two took a few weeks to get back to work, probably a month to feel properly better in myself. The third I had a year ago and am still in constant pain.
The straight answer is that it totally depends I'm afraid.

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samreenshinde said on 12 May 2012

i want to undergo laparoscopy surgery treatment, so How long does it take to recover from laparascopy surgery?
regards

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Going into hospital

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Recovering from an operation

Advice on getting back to normal after surgery

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