Finding out that a hysterectomy is the best treatment solution for your gynecological condition may be both reassuring and formidable: Knowing there’s an effective way to resolve your pelvic pain, heavy bleeding, or reproductive cancer can put your mind at ease, but the idea of having to undergo surgery can also leave you feeling apprehensive.
At Panhandle Obstetrics and Gynecology in Amarillo, Texas, our skilled surgical team specializes in da Vinci® Robotic Surgery, a minimally invasive hysterectomy procedure that minimizes tissue damage and reduces your risk of infection to foster a faster recovery.
Read on to learn more about various hysterectomy techniques, and find out what to expect as you recover from your surgery.
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that may be done to remove just the upper part of your uterus (partial hysterectomy), your entire uterus and cervix (total hysterectomy), or your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries (total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy).
Close to half a million hysterectomies — mostly total hysterectomies — are performed in the United States each year. As the second most frequent women’s surgery following C-section delivery, hysterectomies are exceptionally common. It’s estimated that about one in three women has one by their 60th birthday.
A hysterectomy is often the recommended treatment for gynecological cancers and serious gynecological problems that haven’t responded to conservative treatment measures. It can help resolve uterine fibroids, rectify uncontrolled uterine bleeding, put an end to persistent endometriosis pain, address major uterine prolapse, or treat cervical cancer.
A hysterectomy can be done in several different ways, depending on your reason for having the surgery and other factors. A traditional hysterectomy is done through a large incision across your lower abdomen, while a vaginal hysterectomy is done through your vaginal canal, without external incisions.
A minimally invasive laparoscopic hysterectomy uses small abdominal or vaginal incisions, a camera, and specialized tools. A robotic hysterectomy combines robotic assistance and laparoscopic techniques to achieve a high rate of precision while disrupting as little tissue as possible.
Like any major surgery, a hysterectomy requires a short hospital stay. How long you stay — and how quickly you heal and recover at home afterward — depends on the procedure as well as your age and overall health.
After a hysterectomy, you may wake up feeling tired and in some pain. This is normal, and our team gives you pain relievers to alleviate discomfort for the first few days. We also have you move around as soon as possible after your surgery to reduce your risk of developing a blood clot.
This includes going to the bathroom on your own unless you’ve been given a catheter. After a vaginal hysterectomy, a gauze pack may be inserted into your vagina for 24 hours to minimize your risk of bleeding. Following a conventional hysterectomy, you may need a drainage tube in your abdomen for 1-2 days.
Most women stay in the hospital for 1-2 days following a minimally invasive laparoscopic or robot-assisted hysterectomy; after traditional open surgery or a hysterectomy to treat cancer, the average hospital stay is 3-5 days.
All women experience vaginal bleeding and discharge after a hysterectomy. Whether yours lasts for several days or several weeks, use sanitary pads, not tampons, until the bleeding stops. You shouldn’t insert anything into your vagina (or have sexual intercourse) for 4-6 weeks following surgery.
Many women experience short-term constipation after a hysterectomy, and some have temporary problems emptying their bladder. While these issues usually resolve themselves, reach out to our team if you’re concerned about either.
The time it takes for you to return to normal activities depends largely on the type of surgery you have. Recovery from conventional open (abdominal) surgery typically takes 4-6 weeks, while recovery from vaginal, laparoscopic, or robotic surgery is usually 3-4 weeks.
During this time, follow your surgeon’s instructions. Get plenty of rest, but also move around as often as you can. Start with short daily walks, gradually increasing your time and distance as the days and weeks go by. Avoid vigorous workouts and heavy lifting until our team says you can resume normal activities without restriction.
For many women, the biggest change after a hysterectomy is relief from the symptoms or health-threatening problem that made the surgery necessary, and as a result, a better quality of life. It’s not uncommon to also experience a sense of grief over the loss of fertility.
Living without a uterus means you’ll no longer have periods; you may also experience other menopause symptoms if your ovaries are removed too. If both of your ovaries are removed, it’s important to work with our women’s wellness team to mitigate your higher risk of bone loss, heart disease, and urinary incontinence.
Depending on the reason for your hysterectomy, you still may need routine pelvic exams and cervical cancer screenings (Pap smears), so you should continue to see our team for regular gynecologic exams and general health care as recommended.
To learn more or schedule an appointment at Panhandle Obstetrics and Gynecology, call 806-359-5468 today.