Laparoscopic surgery uses a thin, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope, which is inserted through a small incision, usually at the umbilicus (belly button). The laparoscope is connected to a tiny video camera which projects a view of the operative site onto television monitors located in the operating room.
The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas to allow your surgeon a better view of the operative area. This is called pneumoperitoneum (pneumo=air, peritos=abdominal cavity). There is very little risk of ill effects of the gas.
Additional small incisions are made through which the surgeon inserts specialized surgical instruments. The surgeon uses these instruments to perform the surgery. Following the procedure, all the gas is removed and the small incisions are closed with sutures and covered with surgical tape. After a few months, they are barely visible.
In a small number of patients the laparoscopic method cannot be performed. Factors that may increase the possibility of choosing or converting to the "open" procedure may include obesity, a history of prior abdominal surgery causing dense scar tissue, inability to visualize organs or bleeding problems during the operation.
The decision to perform the open procedure is a judgment decision made by your surgeon either before or during the actual operation. When the surgeon feels that it is safest to convert the laparoscopic procedure to an open one, this is not a complication, but rather a sound surgical judgment. The decision to convert to an open procedure is strictly based on patient safety.