Common Questions when Facing a Hysterectomy
If you have been told you need a hysterectomy, you most likely have many questions. What type of hysterectomy do I need? What type of surgery will be performed? The answers to these questions will be determined by your specific medical condition and your medical history. Another common concern is recovery time. The women I see in my practice have busy lives, and need to be able to return to normal activities as soon as possible after surgery. It is important to know that hysterectomy recovery time varies according to the type of surgical method used.
With an abdominal hysterectomy, you can expect to stay in the hospital for 2 to 3 days before going home. Once home, you are advised to rest and refrain from heavy lifting and household chores for two weeks. Complete recovery takes 6 weeks, and you can resume normal activities at that time, including sex. This method requires a longer recovery time than with other surgical methods due to the size and the location of the incision.
In a vaginal hysterectomy or laparoscopically-assisted vaginal hysterectomy, the uterus is removed through the vagina, and recovery time is shorter than with an abdominal hysterectomy. Your doctor may suggest this method if there are no large masses in the uterus. Women may come home the same day or the next day after the procedure, and recovery time can be as little as two weeks.
A laparoscopic hysterectomy is performed through small incisions made in the abdomen. Using a laparoscope (a small tube with a lighted fixture), the doctor removes the uterus in pieces through the incision sites. Because the incision sites are small, this surgical method involves far less recovery time than with an abdominal hysterectomy. Women can recover in about 2 weeks.
A robotic hysterectomy is also performed through small incisions made in the abdomen. This method may be a good alternative for women who would otherwise require an abdominal hysterectomy due to a large-sized uterus, cancer, or the presence of scar tissue on the uterus, since the robotic tools allow your surgeon greater control and flexibility than with a laparoscope. Women can come home the day after a robotic hysterectomy, and can can recover in about 2 weeks. Watch the following video to learn more about how the da Vinci Robotic Surgery System makes a few small incisions instead of one long one, so patients can recover more quickly from surgeries like fibroid removal, hysterectomy, and other gynecological procedures.
Hysterectomy Post-Surgical Recovery
For all types of surgery, you will rest and recover in a post-surgical recovery unit for a few hours before you are given a space in the hospital or discharged. Your hospital stay will depend on the method of your surgery. While in the hospital, the medical staff will explain your surgical aftercare, including signs of infection. Generally, you will be ordered not to lift anything greater than 10 pounds for 4-6 weeks. In addition, you cannot insert anything vaginally for 4-6 weeks. You will experience some vaginal bleeding, though bleeding saturating more than one pad per hour warrants a call to your doctor. If your doctor used stitches to seal an incision site during a vaginal hysterectomy, you may experience some bleeding 14 days after the surgery when the stitches start to fall out. This is nothing to be concerned about unless the bleeding saturates more than one pad per hour.
You will be advised to call your doctor if any of the following signs of infection occur: a temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, severe abdominal pain at the site of the surgery, bleeding from the incision site that does not improve after 12 hours of applying bandages and pressure, or thick, pus-like discharge from your incision site, vaginal bleeding saturating more than one pad per hour, or foul smelling discharge from the vagina. You should also contact your doctor if you experience any other symptom that concerns you.
After your physical recovery from hysterectomy is completed, you will notice some changes. If your hysterectomy was recommended due to symptoms like pelvic pain or heavy bleeding, relief from these symptoms will be a positive change and many women will enjoy an enhanced sex life. If you have not yet entered menopause and the ovaries were removed along with your uterus, you will feel side effects that come from a decrease in the hormone estrogen. Many times, hormone replacement therapy can begin before a woman leaves the hospital in order to combat these side effects. In some cases, a woman will feel a sense of loss after a hysterectomy. Talk therapy with a mental health care provider can help ease the transition.
Finally, some general advice: remember that you are your own best advocate when it comes to your medical care. If you have questions, ask! If you don’t feel like your questions are being answered, keep asking. When it comes to medical care, so much depends on your exact medical history and your own health conditions; make sure you are an expert on your health history.Hysterectomy Recovery Time: What to Expect