This article is from the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery FAQ, by firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert Green) with numerous contributions by others.
The endoscope is an instrument which allows the surgeon to
utilize a very small incision and still see the actual
surgical location deep under the tissues. This means that
a minimal scar in the axilla can be made, without compromising
the results of the surgery. To achieve an equivalent degree
of visibility and control without an endoscope, the surgeon would
need to make a larger incision in a more visible location.
For comparative purposes, this type of procedure is
similar in nature to orthoscopic surgeries that have become
popular in the media recently for joint surgeries on athletes.
This is not to say that a good result cannot be achieved without
an endoscope, but it is more challenging for the surgeon, who is
operating solely 'by feel'.