How is laparoscopic surgery different from conventional “open” surgery?

In the past, gynaecological operations were performed through large cuts in the abdominal wall, around 20 cm long (approximately 8 inches), known as laparotomy. See upper picture in image.
Laparoscopy allows surgery to be performed through 3-4 small incisions, each one 0.5-1 cm long. See lower picture in image.