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What’s the Recovery Time for Minimally Invasive Back Surgery?

Many weeks in bed, minimal moving, maximum pain, unable to do anything, hour after hour dragging on as you convalesce after back surgery. Is that what you fear it will be like if you have back surgery? That may have been the reality for some people who underwent open surgical procedures years ago, but the recovery time for minimally invasive back surgery is a totally different story.

Minimally Invasive Back Surgery Benefits

“As opposed to open spine surgery, minimally invasive surgical approaches can be faster, safer and require less recovery time,” said the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). So how do these minimally invasive surgical procedures cut down (literally) on the amount of time needed for recovery? There are a number of factors at play:

Shorter surgeries/less time under anesthesia—The shorter the surgery, the less time under anesthesia, the smaller the risk of surprises or complications. Minimally invasive procedures for back pain typically also reduce the risk of infection and postoperative pain, which also limits the need for pain medication during recovery.

Smaller incisions—With traditional procedures, incisions can be five inches long or longer. During minimally invasive procedures, spinal surgeons at leading surgical centers like DISC Spine Institute only makes a very small incision—sometimes as little as two centimeters. That means less surface area is involved and also results in much better cosmetic results. “Because minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), does not involve a long incision, it avoids significant damage to the muscles surrounding the spine,” said the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Typically, this results in less pain after surgery and a faster recovery.”

Less blood loss—and, often, no need for transfusions. “Higher operative blood loss and transfusion requirements have been associated with an increased number of perioperative complications,” said Science Direct.

Protected muscle tissue—Unlike the process of cutting muscle tissue during open procedures, the tissue is simply moved aside during minimally invasive procedures. This creates “reduced risk of muscle damage,” said the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

The recovery time for minimally invasive back surgery also varies depending on the specific condition and the type of procedure. Here are the details for some popular procedures:


Minimally Invasive Discectomy

Performed through a very small incision less than an inch long, minimally invasive discectomy is typically an outpatient procedure and is sutureless.

Hospital stay—Usually done as an outpatient procedure. Patients may go home the same day, as soon as one hour after surgery.

Surgical time—Can be completed in as little as 30 minutes.

Recovery—Typically about six weeks for full recovery; many are able to go back to work within a week and get back to the gym or and increase physical activity within two to four weeks.


Minimally Invasive Laminectomy

This minimally invasive non-fusion surgical procedure is done through an incision smaller than a half-inch and requires no stitches.

Hospital stay—This is generally done as an outpatient procedure, so there is no hospital stay. 

Surgical time—This procedure has one of the fastest completion times, at just 30 minutes.

Recovery—Expect to be able to leave the surgical center within an hour after the procedure. Patients can typically get back to work within a few days, but heavy lifting, bending, and twisting should not be done for six weeks.

Recovery—Patients can usually get up and walk just after surgery and return to work after four weeks. Twisting, bending, and lifting heavy objects should be eliminated for three months.


When it’s time to put an end to your pain, contact the DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, with the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain today. Minimally invasive surgical techniques mean treating chronic back pain is easier than ever. With outpatient treatments, small incisions, a quicker recovery time instead of a long hospital stay – why wait? Call the DISC Spine Institute for more details and rid yourself of chronic back pain once and for all!

Meet with Dr. Valente or Dr. Indresano in person at one of our 7 convenient DFW locations

Ready for life without back pain? Dr. Valente and Dr. Indresano are here to help. Submit your information and our staff will contact you shortly.

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