Ask a WHT Doctor: Laparoscopy and Endometriosis
Debilitating cramps, heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, nausea, does this sound like your period? These could be symptoms of endometriosis. Endometriosis is a chronic condition that happens when tissue similar to uterine lining grows outside the uterus. According to the U.S. Department of Health, an estimated 11% of women are affected by endometriosis and is especially common among women in their 30s and 40s. While there is no cure for endometriosis, there are treatments available for the symptoms and problems it causes.
We spoke with Clarissa Gutierrez, MD, of Renaissance Women’s Group to answer our questions about how laparoscopy can help treat women suffering from severe endometriosis. Dr. Gutierrez is licensed and trained in the da Vinci® Surgery method, a minimally invasive robotic surgical technique to diagnose and treat gynecologic and fertility issues such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids.
What is laparoscopy, and what does this surgery entail?
Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure used by many surgeons to view inside your abdomen and evaluate the internal structures. For gynecologists, it is commonly used to evaluate for endometriosis. It is performed under general anesthesia and involves making a few small incisions and placing a camera and instruments into the abdomen. We then closely inspect pelvic anatomy, looking for signs of endometriosis, infection, scar tissue, or anything else that may be causing the patient pain.
Is surgery for endometriosis recurring, or is it a one-time procedure?
Ideally, we try to only operate when necessary, as each additional surgery can increase risks of scarring and damage to nearby organs. For some women, they may just have one diagnostic laparoscopy to establish the diagnosis of endometriosis and remove any endometriotic implants that are seen. However, for other women, they may require more laparoscopic procedures to remove ovarian cysts that can be caused by endometriosis, remove new endometriosis implants that may have formed, remove scar tissue, or possibly for fertility procedures.
What can a patient expect after surgery?
Presuming that there are no complications during surgery, recovery is usually quick, two weeks or so. The small incisions heal within a couple of weeks. You should not do any exercise or heavy lifting until your doctor thinks you’ve healed sufficiently. Many women, after the initial discomfort of surgery, can see a huge improvement in their endometriosis pain.
Who is a candidate for this type of treatment?
Any woman who has unexplained pelvic pain despite attempts to manage pain with a variety of hormonal treatments or other medications.
What would your advice be for patients who are suffering from endometriosis symptoms and are not sure what treatment options are right for them?
I would advise them to find a doctor who listens closely to their symptoms and works with them to find a solution for them as an individual. Endometriosis can be challenging and requires several different specialists working together to find the best treatment.
At Women’s Health Texas, our dedicated ObGyns can help determine if you have endometriosis and devise a treatment plan that’s right for you. If you are experiencing symptoms of endometriosis, request an appointment today to speak with one of our doctors.
Read more about endometriosis here.