Recovery times for different types of spine surgery can vary greatly depending on the age and physical health of the individual, but in general, the recovery time for minimally invasive spine surgery is far shorter than that of open-back surgery. The much shorter recovery time is without a doubt one of the most significant advantages to minimally invasive procedures.
Traditional or “open” back surgery is performed in a hospital setting. During the surgery, a long incision (5-6 inches) is made and muscle and tissue matter is cut away from the spine. This technique causes the patient to experience significant postoperative pain because of the collateral damage to soft tissue, so prescription pain medication is usually required for two to four weeks after surgery. The incision can take one to two weeks to heal, and the entire recovery process can take up to a year.
Minimally invasive surgery, on the other hand, is based on state-of-the-art technology that enables it to be performed through an incision less than 1 inch. Rather than cutting muscle tissue away from the spine, minimally invasive procedures dilate muscles and tissues to gradually expand the incision, so the process is far less painful than a large incision and scarring is greatly reduced. Whereas open-back surgery usually requires a hospital stay of at least four days, most minimally invasive procedures are performed in an outpatient setting and the patient is usually able to walk out within two hours. The total recovery time is relatively short for a minimally invasive procedure –as little as two weeks – meaning patients are able to return to normal activities like jogging, swimming and hiking much sooner than with open-spine surgery.
If you have been diagnosed with a neck or back problem such as spinal stenosis, spinal arthritis, spondylolisthesis or another condition and have considered back surgery as a treatment option, it’s important to know how recovery times, risks and success rates vary from procedure to procedure. When you’re ready to reclaim your life, trust that Laser Spine Institute offers effective minimally invasive procedures to treat a host of neck and back conditions. Contact us for more information. We will be glad to answer your questions and review your MRI or CT scan, absolutely free of charge.