To find relief after years of frequent, heavy periods and pelvic pain due to fibroids, Zana was ready to have a hysterectomy. She was prepared for a long recovery and scar – but neither one happened.

Instead, the New Zealand native and Huntington Beach wife and “mum” found gynecologic surgeon and medical director of minimally invasive surgery at Orange Coast Medical Center Gerardo Bustillo, MD, who specializes in the robotic-assisted, single-site hysterectomy procedure.

“It’s not normal at any age to have excessive pain with periods and unexpected bleeding. There is likely to be an underlying cause and multiple treatment options are available.”

WOMEN WISE: Discovering a Gentler Approach

A hysterectomy is a surgery removing a woman’s uterus and, sometimes, her ovaries and fallopian tubes. A woman having this procedure will no longer be able to conceive or have periods. It is the most common gynecologic procedure performed in American women, particularly between the ages of 35 and 54.

There are many reasons women choose to have a hysterectomy. Noncancerous tumors in the uterus, or fibroids, are the most common cause, as was the case for Zana. A hysterectomy may also be warranted due to endometrial cancer, a menstrual bleeding disorder, chronic pelvic pain, or uterine prolapse, when the uterus slips out of position.

For many years, hysterectomies were only performed through a cut in the abdomen or the vagina. Nationwide, abdominal hysterectomy is still the most dominant approach. At Orange Coast Medical Center, refined single-site, robotic-assisted techniques are redefining this surgical intervention for women.

“It’s amazing how incredibly far technology has come,” says Zana. “My mother had a hysterectomy that opened her up from side to side. All I had was a tiny incision and no visible scarring.”

Novel Naval Operations

Dr. Bustillo has performed minimally invasive gynecologic procedures for the past 25 years. His extensive training and expertise allowed him to perform Zana’s single-site hysterectomy with just one, two-inch incision stitched into her belly button. Within two weeks, she was walking a few blocks down to the beach.

“Robotic-assisted techniques are safer and more effective than other laparoscopic and traditional surgeries. The 3D magnification and tiny wristed instruments bend and rotate far greater than the human hand,” says Dr. Bustillo. “I have incredible control to navigate with enhanced vision, precision and control. This translates into less trauma for the patient and faster recoveries.”

Zana adds, “When I think of my four beautiful children, I’m forever grateful to my body. Now, during this next chapter of my life, Dr. Bustillo has given me a brand new passion for living. For me, having this procedure was the best gift, ever.”

Learn more by listening to Advances in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Procedures: Robotic - Assisted Hysterectomy & Myomectomy, a podcast with Dr. Bustillo about robotic-assisted single-site hysterectomy.