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Surgery is an intimidating process for many. However, great strides have been made in the last 25 years to help quell patients' suffering through surgical procedures that reduce bodily trauma. In Hawai’i, two doctors are paving the way, and they can be found at The Queen's Medical Center.

"Why kick in the door when you can look through the key hole?" asks Racquel Bueno, MD. For laparoscopic surgeons like her and Cedric Lorenzo, MD, (see photo) the question comes up often as they consider new and better minimally invasive methods. They specialize in laparoscopic cholecystectomy (minimally invasive gallbladder surgery) which uses a breakthrough breakthrough technique called Single Incision Laparoscopic Surgery (SILS).

A single incision no more than a half inch long is made in the belly button. By contrast, other minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures usually require four small incisions. Specialized tools such as a thin wire-like camera and cutting instrument are then inserted. The healing process is exponentially faster than other methods: patients can leave the hospital as soon as 24 hours and the recovery process is reduced from five to six weeks to one to two weeks.

"It's caught on like wildfire on the mainland," says Dr. Lorenzo of SILS. While it has become increasingly popular on the mainland, the doctors performed the first SILS surgery in Hawai’i at Queen's just last August. Seven patients have undergone the procedure since its inception. Queen's is currently the only known hospital in Hawai’i to offer SILS.

The doctors say that along with faster recovery times, fewer incisions can also mean less risk of infection, less risk for bleeding and less pain. Patients are generally attracted by the aesthetic appeal of having fewer post-operative scars.

For now, the procedure is being used for gall bladder removal, but the doctors see vast potential for SILS. In the near future, the technique could be used for other fixed organs such as kidneys and ovaries, as well as common gastrointestinal surgeries such as appendectomies and even weight-loss surgeries.

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