Frequently Asked Questions
Are you board certified?
Yes. In fact, we are double board-certified or eligible by both the American Board of Surgeons as well as the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.
Do you routinely perform minimally invasive Robotic colon surgery in your practice?
Yes – Houston Colon surgeons are experts in minimally invasive surgery and are recognized throughout the nation as one of the most advanced and skilled robotic surgical group.
What percentage of your colon procedures do you perform with robotic or laparoscopic surgery?
We perform over nearly all of our cases using minimally invasive robotic and laparoscopic techniques which makes our group among the top in the world.
How many robotic and laparoscopic colon surgeries have you performed overall?
Our surgeons have performed well over 2000 laparoscopic and robotic colon and rectal surgery procedures over the last 20 years which makes us one of the highest volume minimally invasive practices in the country. Our surgeons were among the very first to perform these advanced techniques.
What are the benefits of “minimally invasive” robotic and laparoscopic colon surgery?
Minimally invasive surgery avoids a large incision and is a safer procedure with fewer complications. Among the benefits, our patients recover sooner, require less pain medication, tolerate a diet, and are discharged from the hospital much earlier than patients undergoing open surgery. Most of our patients are able to return to work within 2 or 3 weeks compare to 2 or 3 months following open surgery.
Am I a candidate for robotic and laparoscopic colon procedures?
All of our Houston Colon Surgeons are experts in robotic and laparoscopic surgery and therefore nearly all of our patients are candidates for this procedure – even if you have had previous open abdominal procedures, have many medical diseases, or have been told by other surgeons that you are not a candidate.
What are the risks associated with this procedure?
As with any colon or general surgery, there are several potential risks, which we will discuss with you on an individual basis. However, we have seen significantly fewer complications with our patients following robotic and laparoscopic surgery. There are lower risks of wound infections, bleeding, and colostomy.
How often do you “convert” from a robotic to open surgery?
Conversion refers to the situation where we begin the surgery robotically and must convert to open surgery. Fortunately, it is very rare – less than 1% chance in fact that we will need to convert from robotic to open surgery.
What will my recovery time be like following this procedure?
Most of our patients are ready to leave the hospital in 2 days following surgery. This compares very well to the older open surgery in which patients stay 6 or 7 days in the hospital. We developed an enhanced recovery program to speed up and offer a safer pathway to your recovery.
Do you record your outcomes and review how you compare to the standards in the colorectal literature?
Yes. We maintain a prospective patient database that allows us to review, analyze, and compare our outcome to those among other surgeons in the country and worldwide. Our patient outcomes are far superior to national reports and we publish and present our outcomes to strive to achieve best practices among our colleagues.
Single Incision Surgery
Am I a candidate for laparoscopic single-port surgery?
We offer minimally invasive robotic or laparoscopic colorectal surgery to over 95% of our patients. We will review your case thoroughly and determine the very best approach for you. A sometimes laparoscopic single port is the best technique and other times we would prefer the robotic approach. During your consultation, we will discuss why we would suggest one approach over another in your care plan. We are almost always able to complete your surgery safely and effectively with a minimally invasive approach regardless of the complex nature of your presentation.
Do all surgeons perform SILS colon surgery?
Very few surgeons offer this advanced minimally invasive technique to their patents. We were among the first groups in the country to report and master this technique and have been performing SILS since 2008. We have completed hundreds of successful cases and have presented our outcomes at international meetings. We have been involved in training many of our colleagues and have published books and articles about this specific technique. Before choosing a surgeon, it is very important to ask your surgeon if they are experienced and are experts.
What are the possible complications of surgery?
During our consultation, we will discuss the possible risks with you depending on the type of surgery you are having and your medical history. It has been shown that performing minimally invasive surgery significantly lowers the risk of complications following surgery including lower risk of blood loss and lower infection rate, sepsis, and hernia rates.
Is it common to begin your surgery laparoscopically but then have to convert to open?
Nationwide, the conversion rate has been reported as high as 20% (that is, the surgeon begins the procedure laparoscopically, but then has to convert to an open incision across the belly). The good news is that our expert surgeons at Houston Colon have a conversion rate of 1% (that is, only 1 patient out of every 100 requires conversion to an open procedure).
Will I need a colostomy bag?
Many of our patients who come to us for surgery are very concerned that they will need a colostomy or ileostomy bag (also known as an ostomy or stoma). It is very rare that we need to perform permanent colostomy bags. In fact, we are well known for putting colostomy bags back together in patients who have received them from other hospitals following emergency procedures.
Am I at risk of having hemorrhoids?
Constipation and straining are often the main causes of hemorrhoids. Others get hemorrhoids after frequent episodes of diarrhea. Hemorrhoids tend to run in families, and you may be more likely to get them if your parents had them. Other factors include obesity, sitting too long on the toilet, or standing or lifting too much. Pregnant women often get hemorrhoids because of the strain from carrying the baby and from giving birth.
Do hemorrhoids lead to cancer?
No. There is no relationship between hemorrhoids and cancer. However, the symptoms of hemorrhoids can be similar to those of colorectal cancer and other diseases of the digestive system. Therefore, do not rely on over-the-counter medications or other self-treatments. See a colorectal surgeon at Houston Colon first so your symptoms can be properly evaluated and effectively treated.
How can I prevent getting hemorrhoids?
Most of us have hemorrhoids but there are some measures that you can take to reduce any symptoms.
Eat more fiber in your diet. Fresh fruits, leafy vegetables, and whole-grain bread and cereals are good sources of fiber. Drink plenty of fluids. Eight glasses of water or non-caffeinated beverage each day is ideal. Do not read on the toilet as this tends to promote sitting and straining which leads to swelling. Exercise regularly but avoid excessive lifting to the point of straining. Avoid laxatives that lead to loose and frequent stools and diarrhea. This can be just as harmful to hemorrhoids as constipation. Bulk-forming laxatives, such as Citrucel®, Metamucil®, Benefiber® as well as a daily stool softener such as Colace®. When you feel the need to have a bowel movement, don’t wait for long periods before using the bathroom.
What can I do to help with the pain and discomfort?
If you develop a hemorrhoidal flare-up or excessive pain, call to schedule an appointment right away to help prevent complications. We do our best to work you in right away with one of our specialists. The following measures may help minimize your discomfort.
- Take warm soaks three or four times a day and after every bowel movement.
- Clean the anal area after each bowel movement by gently patting with moist toilet paper or moistened pads, such as baby wipes. Do not scrub the area or use soaps.
- Use ice packs to relieve swelling.
- Apply an over the counter hemorrhoid cream that contains witch hazel or similar brand to help lubricate before a bowel movement.
- Avoid constipation by drinking up to 8 glasses of water a day, eating a diet high in fiber, adding a bulk fiber agent as well as a stool softener.
What are the options for the treatment of anal warts?
There are many good options for treatment that can include a prescription for a topical cream, removal in the office, or surgery. The options will depend on many factors, including the type of wart you have, the size, and the location.
Am I a candidate for an in-office procedure?
Many of our patients can be treated right in the office the very same day as your first visit. This is not a very painful procedure, and you can return to work or drive home. Once we examine you, we will be able to discuss the options for treatment.