Dr Paulo Vieira de Sousa started medical school when he was only 17 years old at S. José Hospital, and then worked for a few years at Egas Moniz Hospital before moving to the Algarve in 2008. "Surgery has always been my choice in medicine, so I've assisted surgeons and taken part in surgeries as a student since I was very young." He was among the first people to learn about laparoscopic surgery when the initial courses on the procedure were established in the late nineties.

Compared to standard surgery, laparoscopy is less invasive, less painful, and has a quicker recovery period, which allows patients to resume social and occupational activities much sooner - typically within two to three weeks. "Laparoscopic surgery has better results in terms of the success of operations compared to traditional surgery," the doctor said adding "It is an innovative way that has been around for a few years, but it has been increasingly improved and can provide patients with much more effective results."

Frequently used

Laparoscopy is frequently utilised for procedures inside cavities, such as the thoracic and abdominal cavities, or even inside joints, such as damage to the ankle, knee, or shoulder, and has been strongly widespread in hospitals. As Dr Paulo Sousa stated, “Some joint injuries can already be treated in this way; we just need to set up a video camera inside the area we are looking at and use very sensitive equipment to address the issues patients have”. Dr Paulo has around ten thousand surgeries performed and about 80 percent of them were laparoscopic surgeries. As he argues, “In terms of results is what often makes the difference between someone who is just starting out and someone who already has a lot of experience”.

Currently, Grupo HPA performs laparoscopies utilising 3D technology since it lowers surgical risks and allows for higher-quality procedures. "We can view objects in three dimensions instead of just two, which means that when we treat a patient, we can see the depth of which things are, something that is not possible with a standard camera." The Grupo HPA has invested heavily in this field to provide doctors with the best circumstances available. "We exclusively use 3D in the HPA, and we made a significant investment because we know that the best conditions are necessary for doctors to do their jobs as effectively as possible, and the better the conditions we provide, the better the outcomes", the doctor asserted.

The surgical robots are the greatest surgical exponent of this laparoscopic procedure. “Surgical robots basically don't replace surgery because you still need to manage and manipulate the robot. However, one of the main advantages of surgical robots is their efficient movements, which reduces unwanted movement, removes tremors and provides a series of other advantages.” According to the doctor, the Grupo HPA is reportedly getting ready to buy a robot, hopefully this year or at the beginning of next year.

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Almost everybody can have a laparoscopy; those who cannot are those with serious conditions or those who are unable to get general anaesthesia, which is a necessary part of the procedure. As Dr Paulo further explains, “Technically speaking, it is also challenging to perform a laparoscopy on a patient who has had numerous surgeries in the same area because each time we operate, we create adhesions that reduce the amount of space available for surgery; in these situations, a traditional surgery must be performed”.

Less invasive

Despite the complexity and associated risks being basically the same, complex surgeries like oncological surgeries, which were once quite aggressive and required very difficult recoveries, may now be performed in this less invasive manner. "After a laparoscopy, I encourage patients to resume driving by the end of the third day following their release from the operating room, and they can resume exercising in two to three weeks." In contrasting a laparoscopy with traditional surgery, the doctor continues by stating that “What varies the most are the procedure and the effectiveness of recovery, and that makes laparoscopy surgery an added value”.

In addition to working at the Vilamoura clinic and the private Hospital of Alvor, Dr Paulo Vieira de Sousa is the clinical director of the private Hospital of Gambelas, where he also works as a surgeon.


After studying Journalism for five years in the UK and Malta, Sara Durães moved back to Portugal to pursue her passion for writing and connecting with people. A ‘wanderluster’, Sara loves the beach, long walks, and sports. 

Sara J. Durães