Open surgery is the term used when a large cut is required for a surgeon to access the internal organs. The incision can be through skin and fascia only, or may also involve incisions through muscle. Open surgery is most commonly used when a patient has: a large cancer, had previous surgery, unusual anatomy, extensive infective process or a patient prefers this approach.
When the procedure is done for cancer it is prefixed with ‘radical’, for example a radical cystectomy (excision of the bladder) and radical prostatectomy (excision of the prostate).
Open surgery is the only approach that allows the surgeon to lay hands directly into the surgical field, therefore is the only approach where a surgeon can ‘feel’ for cancer or structures and adjust the operation accordingly.
When open surgery requires incisions through muscle and/ or is above the umbilicus, a longer healing time is required. On average you need to plan for between 1-2 months to recover from an open operation.