Forget going under the knife: Today’s surgeries are minimally invasive, less painful, and result in little downtime

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If you’ve been struggling with a health concern and have been putting off meeting with a surgeon, consider a consult at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center. According to Dr. Christopher Bohac, only 50% of people who come in for a surgery consult actually need the procedure. (Photography: Felicia Vargo)

By Laura Briedis

The phrase “going under the knife,” which was first coined in 1880 to refer to having an operation, could not be more outdated. Today’s surgeries are minimally invasive. At University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center, a campus of UH Regional Hospitals, many surgeries are done robotically.

“We started to offer robotic surgery at UH Geauga Medical Center two years ago,” says Christopher Bohac, MD, FACS, general surgeon and trauma medical director at UH Geauga Medical Center in Chardon. “Today, one-third of my surgeries are done robotically, and our robotic capabilities keep expanding.”

“In most cases, robotic surgery is an option, which results in less hospital time and less pain, and the patient can return to normal activities sooner,” says Dr. Bohac. “From treating hernias, appendix and gallbladders to even more complex colon resections, robotics enables us to do more surgeries minimally invasive than standard laparoscopic equipment would allow us. Now we can turn more old-fashioned open surgeries into minimally invasive surgeries.”

“When we talk about robotic surgery, it’s not what most people think of when they hear the word ‘robot,’” he explains. “The surgeon is still completely controlling everything, as there is no programming or software used for the procedure. It is more like an extension of the surgeon using laparoscopic equipment that has more degrees of freedom and the tools can articulate like hands and wrists.”

If you have been putting off surgery, this new technology offers many benefits, along with peace of mind.

“Too often we see people put off treatment because they are fearful of having surgery or the recovery time,” comments Dr. Bohac. “By delaying surgery, you can make what should be a simple, safe procedure into one that is more complex. For example, if you have gallstones but are avoiding removing your gallbladder, it can turn into acute colitis or pancreatitis and then the infection becomes life-threatening and the surgery is more dangerous.”

“I always try to look at what a patient is navigating through his or her eyes,” he says. “It’s more than just physically going through surgery, but also the mental stress, anguish and fear of having surgery. I always teach the patient as much as I can, so they have best understanding about what they will be going through and truly understanding their options.”

Just because you consult with a general surgeon does not always mean you have to proceed with surgery, as Dr. Bohac says only 50% of patients he sees will need surgery.

“If you do need surgery, we offer the same exact technology and most up-to-date medical therapies in Geauga that are offered downtown, but with the convenience of being closer to home and with a friendly, community feel,” he says.

When To Consult with a Surgeon
Oftentimes your primary care doctor will recommend that you consult with a surgeon for an ongoing medical issue. However, it is hard to know when surgery is the definitive answer to your medical issues. Dr. Christopher Bohac recommends you consult with a surgeon if you have:

  • A painful bulge around your abdomen or groin.
  • Chronic pain, especially on the right upper side of your abdomen after eating.
  • Problems swallowing or if you feel like food is getting stuck in your chest.
  • Significant amounts of blood in your stool.

For an appointment with a general surgeon, call 440-901-6637.

UH Geauga Medical Center is located at 13207 Ravenna Road, in Chardon. For more information, call 440-901-6637 or visit