Don't be Afraid of the Doctor

Questions That Many Patients Have About Robotic Surgery

Robotic surgery is becoming more popular, as surgeons are being more commonly trained on the equipment needed for this surgery, and the equipment itself is becoming more affordable and easier to use. As a patient, you might still have some qualms about a robotic piece of equipment cutting into you, no matter how much reassurance you might get from your surgeon. Note a few questions that many patients have about robotic surgery, so you can discuss your concerns with your surgeon and why they may recommend this type of procedure for you. 

Does the robot actually perform the surgery?

A robotic surgery is not like a robot working on a factory line; a surgeon has complete control over the robotic arms. He or she will usually be standing very close by or in a nearby room, and will use controllers that direct the robotic arms. 

The robotic arms usually have small cameras mounted to them and the surgeon often looks at a screen of these images, which can provide him or her with a much better view of what is being cut and operated on. The view can be magnified many times over and the camera may offer a view inside a patient that a surgeon would need to cut around to see. However, at no time do the robotic arms act on their own.

Does the laser hurt?

Robotic surgical equipment usually uses a laser for cutting, and many people are under the mistaken impression that a laser uses heat to cut. This is not true; a laser is simply a concentrated beam of light, and rarely if ever does it produce or use heat for cutting. As a matter of fact, because the incisions created by a robotic surgeon are typically smaller and more precise than incisions created by standard surgery, you may find that you're in less pain after a robotic surgery than any other type of surgery.

Is there still scarring?

Usually there is still scarring that results from a robotic surgery, but this will depend on the size of incision your surgeon will need for your procedure in particular. Very often the incisions created by robotic arms are the size of a small coin so that if they do leave scars, they are much less noticeable than those left by long incisions that require many stitches to close. Talk to your surgeon about your potential for scarring and what to expect if this is a concern of yours.