New way of scarless surgery

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
November 13, 2007 9:00:00 PM PST
A tough part of having surgery can be the recovery and wounds that turn into scars. Tonight in Seven On Call, we introduce a new kind of surgery that leaves no marks.

Dr. Jay Adlersberg is here with more.

This year, more than a million people will go under the knife to have their gallbladder removed. That used to mean an incision, a lot of pain, and some serious down time. But, a revolutionary new kind of surgery could soon change all that.

"It was intense," said Dana Johnson.

Dana Johnson is describing the gallbladder attack that sent her to the emergency room a few weeks ago.

"It was a like a lot of knives stabbing at me repeatedly, in the stomach area and the kidneys," said Dana Johnson.

Though Dana knew she'd need surgery, she never imagined this -- an operation that would remove her gallbladder without leaving a single scar.

"That's the goal: less pain, less disfigurement, less disability," said Dr. Mark Talamini.

Doctor Mark Talamini is performing a new kind of procedure called natural orifice surgery. Essentially, it's major surgery without the major incision.

"The idea is, rather than making incisions in the abdominal wall, you go through an orifice that the good lord gave us," said Dr. Talamini.

The surgeon enters the body through the mouth or the vagina. Then, using specialized tools, he's able to locate the gallbladder and remove it. There's almost no pain or scarring.

Recovery time is quicker -- hours, compared to weeks. The only incision is a tiny one in the bellybutton to help surgeons guide their instruments.

"You can't even tell you can look at my bellybutton really close and just see a tiny stitch," said Dana Johnson. "It's amazing."

Dana was one of the first people in the U.S. to have the experimental surgery. She was home the very next day and able to walk her dogs pain free.