By Vanusa Melo
A few weeks ago I found myself in a hospital bed waiting to undergo a surgical procedure. I didn’t realize how much medicine has evolved, so when the doctors said I needed to remove my appendix and an ovarian cyst, I panicked. I was already thinking about the days of school I would miss while in recovery and the scars I would have for the rest of my life.
To my surprise, I was informed that the surgery would be done laparoscopically. What this means is that I would have only small incisions and the recovery time would be really fast. In less than two weeks I could go back to exercising and in a week I could be back in school. This all happened during my spring break, so I didn’t miss any classes (what a relief!).
The reason why I decided to write about this experience is because I think all women deserve to know all the resources and possibilities they have before going through any medical or surgical procedure. I say all women because, according to my doctor and this article from Pacific Standard, we are the ones most affected by medical procedures and misdiagnosis. There is much documented evidence that women’s pain is often underdiagnosed and under treated, often attributing complaints to women’s “emotional” issues. Women are also often too busy caring for others to pursue seeking out the best treatment for their own issues.
After I came back from surgery, I saw two kinds of incisions on my lower abdomen. Three small incisions that were from my appendix removal and another one that was so small I even doubted that it was, in fact, an incision. The reason for that obvious discrepancy between the procedures is because I had two different doctors operation on me. A general surgeon that removed the appendix and made the larger traditional laparoscopic incisions and a gynecologist, Dr. Mona Orady, who was responsible for the most minimally invasive surgery I’ve even seen, which she called mini/micro laparoscopy, but is also known as needleoscopy, or percutaneous laparoscopy in which the incisions are only 2-3 mm in size making them almost invisible and painless.
I was thinking it was just me who was surprised with this procedure but after seeing Dr. Orady once more in a post-operatory consult, I realized that even other doctors are in awe with her technique. Dr. Orady is the Director of Robotic Surgery at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital and she helps develop new surgical instruments that allow her to perform surgeries from which you will recover in no time. She says her goal is scarless, painless surgery. Her incision was already completely healed about two weeks after the procedure, while the other ones were still in the process of healing five weeks in. Technology has evolved to the point that now you can have surgery that in most cases won’t even leave a scar.
So why aren’t all doctors already using this new technique? Well, it requires willingness and a bit of training. As Dr. Orady explained, the doctor might need to work a little bit more, since in order to remove anything through such a small incision will require more attention and patience. But it is possible. Of course, every surgery is different, but in most cases, if a laparoscopic surgery is an option, it will most likely be possible to use the Mini-Laparoscopic approach. As Dr. Orady puts it “even larger surgeries such as hysterectomy or myomectomy can be approached in different ways such as vaginally, using Mini-Laparoscopy, Traditional Laparoscopy, or Robotic (daVinci) Assisted Laparoscopy. The approach taken is dependent on the needs of the patient and thus the pain and recovery of surgery can be minimized while accomplishing exactly what is needed to solve the problem and return her to her normal Life, only better”.
While talking to Dr. Orady, I learned that she has been fighting to change the way women are treated. She believes that not all surgeries need to be painful and followed by long recovery time. Additionally, I learned that having too much pain and a heavy period is not supposed to be normal, there is treatment and believe it or not, that’s the first time I heard this from a gynecologist. She also explained to me that having an IUD placed can be done with local anesthesia so that the patient doesn’t feel the excruciating pain of insertion. I didn’t know that and as I came to know, not many women know that either.
That’s why I decided to share my experience and what I learned with all of you. So that the next time you go to your gynecologist, you ask about alternative treatments and procedures, and seek out the least invasive treatment.
I want to emphasize that I’m sharing this with you because I too believe women should be informed and empowered. Thus, I recommend Dr. Orady with full confidence that she will meet your expectations. And no, I’m not being paid in any form to do so. What I get from this is the certainty that I shared something good with the world, and even if I help only one person, knowing that this is a possibility, to me this is priceless.
You can reach Dr. Mona Orady at 2250 Hayes Street, Suite 302, San Francisco, CA 94117 or 415-379-2900.