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Department of Surgery Referrals Patient Clinician Researcher

Scarless & Minimal Access Surgery

Marc Bessler, MD
Surgical Director, Minimal Access Surgery Program; Director, Columbia University Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery.

The Department of Surgery employs minimally invasive (or minimal access) surgery techniques throughout its clinical areas. These techniques offer patients faster recovery, less post-surgical pain, and smaller incisions.

Laparoscopic Surgery
Laparoscopic surgery is performed through small incisions (between to 1 inches long). A telescope with a video camera inserted through one incision provides visualization of the operation on a TV monitor. Surgical instruments are then passed through additional small incisions, and the entire operation takes place completely within the patient's body. When the telescope is used to operate on the abdomen, the procedure is called laparoscopy. When used in the chest, the procedure is called thoracoscopy.

Endoscopy and Scarless Surgery
Minimally invasive operations are also performed from within organs and body cavities; the surgeon makes an internal incision through the wall of an organ or internal cavity such as the stomach, or behind the uterus to access internal organs. Access is gained through body openings such as the mouth or the anus. Special instruments are deployed through an endoscope or similar long flexible instrument to perform the surgery. Many endoscopic operations leave no external scars. Read more about scarless surgery.

Catheter-Based Procedures
Minimally invasive surgery may also be performed using long slim tubes called catheters threaded through the vessels from small incisions in the groin or the neck. Catheter-based techniques are used to perform cardiac surgical procedures and vascular procedures.

Click the links below to learn more about how individual specialties employ minimally invasive techniques.

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