Surgeon Reacts to Robotic Surgery TikToks

Welcome back to the Doctor Rich Channel. As you all know, I’m a famous robotic surgeon — so I will now famously react to robotic surgery TikToks!

Don’t have time to read this post? Watch the video here instead!

Robotic surgery is an important tool that surgeons use to perform minimally invasive surgery — and (specifically for gynecology) the treatment of endometriosis. Let’s check out these videos.

[Video of a young woman giving a “thumbs up” with the caption: “Me excited cuz I finally get to have surgery for endometriosis.” Video switches to a photo of a surgery robot, and the woman’s expression changes to concern. The caption reads, “The robot that will be all up in my guts.”]

Doctor Rich:

So robotic surgery is a tool that essentially allows for surgery to be performed with little tiny incisions. With traditional surgery, a surgeon will actually create an open incision — kind of like a c-section or up and down incision — anywhere from eight to 20 centimeters long. They’ll then place their entire hands inside the patient to perform the surgery. The robot uses little tiny instruments that delicately, meticulously perform the surgery. This allows for a type of surgical precision and dexterity in performing surgery that, frankly, is beyond the ability of what a surgeon can do with his own hands (and with much smaller incisions). 

[Video resumes, and the woman is seated on the floor. She smiles and the caption reads, “No more endo?” The caption changes to “5 robotic arms rearranging my guts,” and a scream sound plays.]

Doctor Rich [laughing]:

So no matter how you do surgery — your guts are going to get rearranged! The robotics allows you to do it with the least amount of tissue trauma, the least amount of bleeding, and the fastest possible recovery (compared to doing an open incision). Not to mention the cosmetic benefit of little, tiny incisions as opposed to a big, open incision. 

And just as a robot nerd, I’ll point out the fact that there aren’t five robotic arms. There are only four arms. The fifth incision (or the fifth port site) is actually the surgical assist using his laparoscopic instruments for traction during the actual robotic surgery (or the removal of endometriosis). 

[Second video begins. Another young woman is packing and preparing for her upcoming surgery while her dog watches.]

“So first we get all the meds, we figure out what we need, we get it all on the bed… [hugging her dog] We stop for cuddles, of course. We pack a medicine bag of all the medicines I might need. Fuzzy socks, t-shirts… Ooh! Tens machine for the muscles — gotta pack that up! Got some hand lotion. Gotta get my pills for the entire week ready just so I don’t have to do that later. I’ve got my pills, got my vitamin D supplements… [hugging dog again] Had to stop for more cuddles…”

Doctor Rich:

I mean, definitely cuddles! Hands down — that’s the way to go! A therapeutic animal- cuddling is always in order. 

I’m trying to figure out why she’s actually packing? 

So laparoscopic endometriosis surgery is outpatient surgery. Particularly with the surgical robot, the patient would arrive in the morning, having fasted overnight — so nothing to eat or drink in the morning. They would have the surgery, which could take anywhere from 30 minutes to three and a half hours (depending on the extent of the disease). The patient would then go to the recovery room. They’ll stay in the recovery room for another two to four hours, and then they go home! And so all of the medicines or anything else they would need would be waiting at home for them. So I’m trying to get my head around why she’s packing for that. 

[Video resumes with the caption, “How I prepped for my laparoscopic endometriosis surgery”]

“Had to chug water… snacks, vitamin C, and liquid IV. And we got the whole bedroom ready: clean sheets. This is me the morning of. [Walking her dog] And then we just went for our last walk, and then I headed off!”

Doctor Rich:

All right. Well, preparedness is always a good thing! 

I guess all of the packing is because she was recovering in a place that’s different from her house? But again — you’re not bed-bound after the surgery. You can get up, move around, go up and down stairs… Here’s a typical recovery for a laparoscopic or robotic endometriosis surgery. The day of surgery (and the next day) you’re not going to do too much — that’s where the most pain from the surgery is going to happen. There are ways to minimize that pain — medications that can be given in the recovery area and also kind of stronger narcotic medicines that the patient can take afterwards (as well as pain pumps or injections that can be used to further reduce the pain). 

But really after the second day, there aren’t that many restrictions! 

By day three or four, you can drive, go to the store, and do things around the house. And really by one week, you’re about 90% recovered! You would only really need help with all this pre-planning and prepping for the first day — and maybe the second day of surgery. 

Thanks for watching and thanks to all those TikTokers out there; they give us the opportunity to observe, inspire, and inform. Make sure to hit subscribe so you can check out all of our great videos — coming at you every Thursday!