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With New Surgeon On Board, UVA Gynecologic Surgery Program Moves Toward Minimally Invasive Approaches

At a Glance

Title: Assistant Professor
Fellowship: University of Pittsburgh
Residency: Duke University
Medical Degree: University of Michigan

The American Board of Medical Specialties recently announced the approval of a focused practice designation in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery, with the first applications and examination coming in 2021. One surgeon actively pursuing this designation is Laura Homewood, MD, a new member of the UVA Health gynecology services team. 

“Minimally invasive gynecologic surgery is now a board-certified subspecialty in the same way as maternal-fetal medicine and urogynecology. This is a big development for our field,” says Homewood. 

Get to Know: Gynecologic Surgeon Laura Homewood, MD

Why did you choose to specialize in gynecologic surgery?

I really enjoy the operating room and the challenge of surgery. For complex pathology, you have to have a solid understanding of pelvic anatomy, including retroperitoneal anatomy, in order to perform surgery safely. You have to be able to think on your feet when you’re faced with situations that aren’t straightforward. And you have to be able to use different tools or be innovative in how you use your tools, all the while doing a surgery through a 1-cm incision.

What type of conditions do you treat?

I primarily treat large uterine fibroids, endometriosis, as well as ovarian pathologies like ovarian cysts. I also do Essure removal. My specialty is offering a minimally invasive approach to women who otherwise may only be offered an open approach to surgery.  

What are the benefits of minimally invasive gynecologic surgery?

A lot of studies have been done showing that women who have minimally invasive surgery have better outcomes. They have shorter hospital stays and a faster recovery, so they return to work and life more quickly. They have lower rates of wound complications and post-operative pain. Overall, they have better satisfaction with [this type of] procedure.

What do you find most rewarding about work?

Patient satisfaction. It’s rewarding to see how happy people are to know they don’t have to stay multiple days in the hospital. They get to go home and get back to their jobs sooner. It’s really nice to be able to offer that to patients. I had one patient who had a special needs child, and she was the primary caretaker; the child depended on her. She needed a hysterectomy, but to be unable to care for her child for six weeks if she’d had open surgery would’ve been very debilitating for her. We were able to do a minimally invasive procedure and in about two weeks, she was able to be back to her normal activities. 

What opportunities do you see within the UVA gynecologic surgery program?

I think, with my hiring, UVA is committed to moving more in the direction of minimally invasive surgery. I think there is potential to offer more same-day discharge for GYN surgery patients. We are implementing ERAS [Enhanced Recovery After Surgery] protocols, which overall improves the experience for the patient, so I think by doing that and other things, they’re really taking a step in the right direction. 

Will you be involved in research at UVA?

Yes. I will be doing surgical education research and surgical simulation research. I’ll also be doing surgical quality and outcomes research based on large databases from across the country, working toward quality improvement. That will be a big part of my job. 

You were president of the Galens Medical Society charity organization at University of Michigan Medical School and you’re involved in volunteer work locally. Why is that important to you?

The Galens Society is one of oldest and biggest societies at the University of Michigan Medical School; it really allowed students to make a connection with the community that we may not have had otherwise. We did a lot of volunteering with the children’s hospital and other children’s groups. We could see firsthand the patients we helped and really make an impact. I also volunteer with First Tee in Charlottesville, which helps lower-income kids learn life skills based on the game of golf. I love golf, but I also love to incorporate my desire to teach with my desire to help out the community all in one activity. 

What would you like referring providers to know about you?

I am available for consultation on any sort of GYN surgical questions or concerns. I’d be happy to see anyone and help out however I can. 

To refer a patient to UVA Health, call UVA Physician Direct at 800.552.3723.

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