Traditional open heart surgery is invasive (typically involving a 6- to 8-inch incision through the breastbone) and requires a long healing and recovery process. Minimally invasive heart surgery offers an alternative to some types of open heart surgery, resulting in less pain and faster recovery for most people. Minimally invasive heart surgery may incorporate robotic technology to assist surgeons during this procedure.\nHere’s what you need to know.\nThe Heart of the Matter\nIn minimally invasive (robotic) heart surgery, your surgeon will make one or more small incisions between your ribs. Then, surgical instruments\u2014along with a tiny camera\u2014are inserted through the incision. The surgical tools are connected to robotic arms that the surgeon controls with a computerized device. This allows your surgeon to better manipulate the instruments and perform the procedure more precisely.\nThis type of surgery can be used for several different heart procedures, including:\n\nCoronary bypass\nValve surgery\nAneurysm repair\n\nWhat to Expect During Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery\nBecause it involves a smaller incision, minimally invasive heart surgery can have a number of benefits for patients. These include:\n\nLess pain\nLess scarring\nShorter hospital stays after surgery\nLower risk of infection and bleeding\nShorter recovery time\n\nPeople who undergo minimally invasive heart surgery usually return home two to five days after the procedure. In general, it takes between one and four weeks to recover from this form of surgery. In comparison, open heart surgery has a typical recovery time that can be twice as long.\nHowever, not everyone is eligible for minimally invasive or robotic surgery. Your surgeon will weigh the risks and benefits of these techniques with traditional open heart surgery and determine the best choice depending on your age, medical history, the type of heart problem you have, and other factors.\nWant to learn more about minimally invasive heart surgery? Visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute website or contact us at 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).