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Endoscopic spine surgery, or ESS for short, is a revolutionary and fairly new type of ultra-minimally invasive spine surgery used to treat or alleviate the symptoms associated with a variety of spinal conditions.  

Compared to open spine surgery and even other types of minimally invasive surgery, ESS “often results in fewer scars, less time on the operating table, and a less intense recovery period”, as we covered in our blog post “What Is Endoscopic Spine Surgery (ESS)?”.  

Just how intense is the question that we aim to answer in this post. Let’s talk about what to expect during post-op life, both immediately following ESS (recovery), and in the long-term. 

What Are the Benefits of Endoscopic Spine Surgery? 

Major benefits of ESS, as we cover in our in-depth ESS procedural page include: 

  • Smaller incisions resulting in less scarring 
  • Reduced blood loss during surgery 
  • Little-to-no muscle damage 
  • Reduced risk of infection 
  • Reduced pain and need for pain medication 
  • Faster recovery with less rehabilitation required 

Once you know you’re a candidate for ESS (not everyone is), it will be important to weigh these and other benefits against any potential impediments to surgery (such as recovery, post-op pain, and so forth). It is also meant to provide context for any negatives associated with ESS in comparison to potential long-term benefits. We aim to highlight these benefits, along with expectations for both the short-term and long-term after surgery. 

Endoscopic Spine Surgery Recovery Time & More 

Most Doctors don’t perform endoscopic spine surgery, but it’s not because of anything on the patient end. It simply is a newer form of surgery that requires extensive training. Fortunately, Dr. Baig is proficient in this innovative technique! 

Recovery from ESS is actually far less intense (and far shorter) than recovery from traditional open surgery. But ESS is still surgery, and there is still a recovery process, even though this is an outpatient procedure with smaller incisions. 

The level of pain you experience is highly dependent upon your individual condition but most patient’s who undergo Endoscopic spine surgery need very little, if any, narcotic pain medication. Often times the use of Tylenol or Ibuprofen will suffice. 

The recovery time can vary and going back to work depends on what type of work you do. Typically our patients are back to going about their normal daily activities within days, and back to work within a week or so. This is much different compared to an open spinal fusion which may require you be off work for as long as 6 weeks or so. 

Life After Endoscopic Spinal Surgery 

Animated image of endoscopic spine surgery vs open back surgery

Most patients feel near immediate relief after having endoscopic spinal surgery performed followed by minor pain in the following days. Others take longer to feel relief and have some outstanding pain for longer. Your preexisting conditions, overall health, activity levels, and more, can all impact how long it takes to feel the full benefits of endoscopic spine surgery. 

But done right, ESS can and does result in a noticeable decrease in pain levels, a much easier time completing activities of daily living, and a “new and improved normal”. 

The following after-care activities are important: 

  • Physical Therapy: Helps regain strength, flexibility, and proper movement patterns. 
  • Incision Care: Keep the surgical area clean & dry until healed to minimize infection risk. 
  • Follow-Up Appointments: Regular checkups with your doctor are crucial to monitor progress and address any concerns. 

Learn More About Endoscopic Spine Surgery 

Read our procedural page on endoscopic spine surgery here for additional information on what to expect. Or read our patient reviews. Here’s one from someone who suffered from a herniated disc and experienced a complete removal of all pain after the fact:

“I’m very, very pleased with my experience not only with Dr. Baig but his whole team. I had been suffering from leg pain due to a herniated disk in my lower back for 5 years. After meeting with Dr. Baig, I decided to skip the spinal injections and go through with the surgery instead. And how very pleased I am that I did. Waking up after surgery my pain was gone! And the recovery was not as bad as I expected. It’s been 6 weeks and I feel like I did before I ever had back pain. I feel GREAT! I’m so very happy I decided to go with Dr. Baig. He is very good at what he does and explained everything to the T. I would highly recommend him to anyone I know suffering from back/neck pain. If you’re looking for someone that takes tremendous pride in his work he’s the doctor for you!”

Ready to see if Endoscopic Spine Surgery is right for you? Contact Dr. Baig and the Desert Spine and Scoliosis team today for a personalized consultation and treatment plan.