Laparoscopic surgery scars, virtually invisible

August 03, 2010

Susie Watson readily admits that the most important result of her teenage daughter's surgery was that she ended up healthy. But she certainly appreciates that no scars were noticeable afterward, too.

“We would have been happy with however Laura looked after surgery as long as she was healthy,” Susie said. “But I'm delighted that it wound up that she doesn't have to worry about people seeing her scars.”

Those scars are hidden because her surgeon, Dr. Patricio Gargollo, used the HIdES technique—a procedure he invented.

Location, location, location

This past spring, Laura, 16, learned that something was wrong with her kidneys and would need an operation near her abdomen. Surgeries like Laura's are often done with minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopy. This means much less scaring compared to open surgery, which requires a large incision across the patient's belly.

But laparoscopic surgeries aren't perfect. The surgical scars are smaller than those from open surgery, but “you still have two noticeable scars that look like dots,” said Dr. Gargollo, a pediatric surgeon in Urology. If Laura's surgery had been done with traditional laparoscopy, she would have had two scars just below her chest—easily noticeable when wearing a bikini.

Using the HIdES technique, though, Dr. Gargollo made the two incisions just beneath Laura's bikini line. The scars are hidden under a bathing suit—even a two-piece. With HIdES, “You lose nothing as far as surgical precision, but you gain a lot cosmetically,” he said.

Although the change in technique is simple enough, Dr. Gargollo said he is not aware of any other surgeon who's ever tried it.

Hidden Incision Endoscopic Surgery

Dr. Gargollo has only used HIdES, which stands for Hidden Incision Endoscopic Surgery, for kidney procedures so far but believes it could be used for a broad range of surgeries.

“In theory, the technique could be used for any upper-abdominal surgery including stomach, gallbladder and spleen,” said Dr. Gargollo, who used a laparoscopic robot to perform Laura's procedure.

Cosmetic and emotional benefits

While the impact of the new technique could be surgically and cosmetically groundbreaking, its greatest benefit might be emotional.

“As the mother of a 16-year-old, you know that her whole life is in front of her,” Susie said. “It just means a lot to me that my daughter won't have to be self-conscious about wearing a bathing suit for the rest of her life.”