You are on the waiting list to have a diagnostic laparoscopy. This page gives you information about the laparoscopy and what to expect during and after the procedure.

What is a laparoscopy?

A laparoscopy is an exploratory (investigative) operation, which is carried out under general anaesthetic (while you are asleep). The procedure is usually done as day surgery. This means that you will come into hospital on the morning of your operation and you are allowed to go home about 4 hours after over the procedure. Occasionally, we advise patients not to go home the same day and will arrange for an overnight stay in hospital.


Sometimes other procedures are carried out during the laparoscopy such as, tissue biopsy, ovarian cyst aspiration or removal, treatment of endometriosis or divisions of adhesions. If this is likely your consultant will discuss this with you.

What to expect before your operation?

After your first consultation, you will be assessed either by telephone or in the pre-admission clinic to make the final arrangements and to check if you are fit for the operation.

If you are taking the contraceptive pill, there is no need to stop as the surgery is only a day case procedure.

Please avoid unprotected intercourse during the month of your laparoscopy.

If there is any chance of you being pregnant your operation will be cancelled.

If you think your surgery date might coincide with your period, please contact your consultant’s secretary to let us know, as we might be able to give you hormone tablets which you will need to take a week before your expected period. This will delay your period until after surgery.

What happens during the operation?

Following admission, an anaesthetist and a gynaecologist will talk to you before your operation takes place. The operation will take about 15 minutes.

A small cut, about 1 cm long will be made under the navel and 1 or 2 smaller cuts made just above the pubic hairline. Some medical gas is put into your abdomen so that the surgeon has a better view when the laparoscope (telescope) is inserted through the first small cut. Through this, the surgeon is able to inspect your womb and fallopian tubes.

To assist the inspection and for treatment, it may be necessary to insert further instruments through 1 or 2 further 1 cm cuts. In addition, a vaginal examination and womb manipulation will also be required.

At the end of the operation the medical gas will be released and the small cuts closed using a dissolvable stitch. If a non-absorbable stitch is used, it can be removed after 5 days to speed up healing.

The results of your laparoscopy will be discussed with you before you go home.

What are the possible complications?

About 250,000 women have laparoscopic surgery in the United Kingdom each year. The majority of women do not have problems, but complications can happen in about 1 in every 1,000 cases. The known risks are:

  • Damage to the bowel, bladder or major blood vessels
  • Failure to enter the abdominal cavity
  • Uterine perforation
  • Bruising
  • Shoulder tip pain

In extremely rare cases it is necessary to make a bigger incision than planned. This is then called a laparotomy. If this happens you will need to stay longer in hospital to recover.

After the operation

You may have a sore throat or nausea (feeling sick) from the anaesthetic. We will give you pain relief to take home, but you must not exceed the recommended dose.

You may have some vaginal bleeding following the operation. If pain or bleeding becomes excessive you should contact your GP for advice.

As mentioned, the stitches will dissolve but can be removed earlier if they irritate you. Please make an appointment with the practice nurse, at your GP’s surgery, to remove the stitches for you.

You may have a bath or shower the day after your surgery. Sexual relations can be resumed as soon as you are comfortable to do so.

When can I go back to work?

Most patients are well enough to go back to work 2 to 3 days after their surgery, but it is individual and some patients may find they need longer to recover. If needed, a sickness note (also known as a ‘Statement of Fitness for Work’), for up to a week or two, may be issued by your consultant.

If a follow up appointment is needed, it will be confirmed by the consultant who will talk to you after your operation. An appointment letter will be sent to you.

Contact information

If you have any queries, please contact your consultant’s secretary. The telephone number will be on your appointment letter.

Printable version of this page

Diagnostic laparoscopy GHPI0863_12_23 Department: Gynaecology Review due: December 2026 PDF, 287.2 KB, 4 pages
Reference number GHPI0863_12_23
Department Gynaecology
Review due December 2026