About the Expert
With his background in computers, Gary Alexander has trained extensively in all applications of the da Vinci robotic surgical platform. After years as a board-certified general surgeon, he’s still fascinated by the human body and its ability to repair itself. Dr. Alexander emphasizes patient education and empowerment, partnering with his patients to find the most viable, least invasive treatment options.
How has general surgery changed over the years?
Surgery has always had the glorious tradition of innovation, physicians who push the boundaries of the profession and advance the science. Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen significant advances with instrumentation and optics. These changes have allowed us to perform operations—that used to require large incisions—with small, barely noticeable incisions. More importantly, as communication and interconnectivity have blossomed, so has the availability and the expression of new ideas. We’re not simply limited to a few textbooks or journals but have vast resource of ideas and surgeons around the world can talk to each other instantaneously and share their experiences and innovations.
What is robotic surgery and what are the benefits?
Robotic surgery in its simplest sense is the marriage of the human brain and experience with today’s technological advances. Robotics allows our eyes to see with clarity and magnification anatomy that we could not previously see. Robotics allows our hands to move instruments with gentle precision in places where our hands could not previously reach. The benefits of this visualization and precision has proven to be fewer complications, less blood loss, and faster recovery.
What kind of results can I expect from reflux surgery?
The most insidious part of acid reflux disease is that it robs people of a freedom they used to have when they could live a life that didn’t revolve around heartburn, being able to have a cup of coffee or share a meal with friends without having to worry about the misery to follow. Reflux and heartburn are often a fixable condition. Reflux surgery has fantastic results allowing patients to stop taking antacids. There are several surgery options, all of which include fast recovery and resolution of heartburn symptoms.
How much recovery and time off work can I expect after any general surgery?
Recovery from surgery varies depending upon the operation. However, with most minimally invasive procedures, major recovery is anywhere from three to five days and full recovery is anywhere from four to six weeks.
Will I have a scar from my surgery?
Scar-less surgery is a noble goal. However, until we discover more rapid cellular regeneration, such things are in the realm of science fiction. The reality is most, if not all, operations require an incision that needs to heal. The wonderful thing about modern technology though is that scars are becoming fewer and smaller every day. We also have advanced technologies that help these incisions fade to the point where they’re nearly invisible.
What’s the most important piece of advice you can give to a patient before they see a surgeon?
Take your time. Do your research. People spend more time reading reviews for products on Amazon or restaurant reviews than they do looking for a surgeon. Know why you’re going to see a surgeon. Ask questions. If you don’t understand the answer, ask the question again. Have a good dialogue. Remember that you’re the customer.