A laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that may be used to diagnose and treat various conditions, including endometriosis.
During a laparoscopy, a long, thin viewing instrument, called a laparoscope, is inserted into the abdomen through a small, surgical incision. This allows your doctor to view tissue or take a tissue sample, called a biopsy.
They may also remove cysts, implants, and scar tissue caused by endometriosis.
A laparoscopy for endometriosis is a low-risk and minimally invasive procedure. It’s typically performed under general anesthesia by a surgeon or gynecologist. Most people are released from the hospital on the same day. Overnight monitoring is sometimes required, though.
Your doctor may recommend a laparoscopy if:
- You regularly experience severe abdominal pain believed to be caused by endometriosis.
- Endometriosis or related symptoms have continued or reappeared following hormone therapy.
- Endometriosis is believed to be interfering with organs, such as the bladder or bowel.
- Endometriosis is suspected to be causing infertility.
- An abnormal mass, called ovarian endometrioma, has been identified on your ovary
Laparoscopic surgery isn’t suitable for everyone. Hormone therapy, a less invasive form of treatment, may be prescribed first. Endometriosis that affects the bowel or bladder may require a more extensive surgery.
You may be instructed to not eat or drink for at least 8 hours leading up to the procedure. Most laparoscopies are outpatient procedures. That means you don’t need to stay at the clinic or hospital overnight. If there are complications, you may need to stay longer. It’s a good idea to pack a few personal items just in case.
Arrange for a partner, family member, or friend to drive you home and stay with you after your procedure. General anesthesia, which allows an individual to go into a sleep-like state during a procedure and feel no pain, can cause nausea and vomiting in some people. Having a bag or bin ready for the car ride home is a good idea.
You might be instructed not to shower or take a bath for a period of time following a laparoscopy to allow the incision to heal.
Showering right before the procedure might make you feel more comfortable.
Laparoscopy is almost always done under general anesthesia, and once it’s administered, you’ll fall asleep and not feel any pain. It’s usually administered through an intravenous (IV) line, but may also be given orally.
During a laparoscopy, your surgeon will make a tiny incision in your abdomen, typically under your belly button. Next, a small tube called a cannula is inserted into the opening. The cannula is used to inflate the abdomen with gas, usually carbon dioxide. This helps your surgeon to see the inside of your abdomen more clearly.
Your surgeon will insert the laparoscope through or under your belly button. There’s a small camera on the top of the laparoscope that allows them to see your internal organs on a screen. Your surgeon may make additional incisions to get a better view.
When endometriosis or scar tissue is found, your surgeon will likely use one of several techniques to treat it. These include:
- excision. Your surgeon will remove the tissue.
- ablation. This procedure uses freezing, heating, electricity, or laser beams to destroy the tissue.
Once the procedure is finished, your surgeon will close the incision with several stitches.
Immediately after the surgery, you might experience:
- side effects from the anesthetic, including grogginess, nausea, and vomiting
- discomfort caused by excess gas
- mild vaginal bleeding
- mild pain at the site of the incision
- soreness in the abdomen
- changes in mood
You should avoid certain activities immediately after your surgery. These include:
- intense exercise
- sexual intercourse
It can take a week or more before you’re ready to return to your regular activities.
Your first period after the surgery may be longer, heavier, or more painful than usual. Try not to panic. Your body is still healing on the inside, even if you feel better. If pain is severe, contact your doctor or emergency medical care.
After your surgery, you can ease the recovery process by:
- getting enough rest
- eating a nutritious diet and drinking enough fluids
- doing gentle movements (such as walking) to help eliminate excess gas
- taking care of your incision by keeping it clean and out of direct sunlight
- giving your body the time it needs to heal
- contacting your doctor immediately if you experience complications
Your doctor may suggest a follow-up appointment between 2 and 6 weeks after surgery. If you have endometriosis, this is a good time to talk about a long-term monitoring and treatment plan and, if necessary, fertility options.
In some studies, laparoscopic surgery is
However, if you’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis, reoccurrence is possible, and additional surgery may be needed.
While the link between endometriosis and infertility remains unclear, 30 to 50 percent of individuals dealing with infertility also have endometriosis.
In one small study from 2014, 71 percent of women under the age of 25 who underwent laparoscopic surgery to treat endometriosis went on to get pregnant and give birth.
Having endometriosis doesn’t mean you’ll definitely have difficulty conceiving, but if you do, talk with your doctor to learn about the many alternative options available for people who want to become parents.
Risks of laparoscopic surgery are rare, but as with any surgery, there are certain risks. These include:
- infections in the bladder, uterus, or surrounding tissues
- uncontrolled bleeding
- bowel, bladder, or ureter damage
Contact your doctor or emergency medical care if you experience any of the following after laparoscopic surgery:
- severe pain
- nausea or vomiting that doesn’t go away within 1 or 2 days
- increased bleeding
- increased pain at the site of the incision
- abnormal vaginal discharge
- unusual discharge at the site of the incision
- pain that doesn’t get better with pain medication
Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure used to diagnose conditions such as endometriosis and treat symptoms such as pain. In some cases, laparoscopy may improve your chances of getting pregnant. Complications are rare. Most women make a full recovery.
Talk with your doctor to find out more about the risks and benefits of laparoscopic surgery.