Recovery From Hysterectomy Week By Week

You may experience some light vaginal bleeding that comes and goes during the first few weeks following surgery. Typically this will decrease over time.

Your laparoscopic hysterectomy recovery timeline

Recovery From Hysterectomy Week By Week Recovery From Hysterectomy Week By Week Recovery From Hysterectomy Week By Week Recovery From Hysterectomy Week By Week

If your doctor has recommended a minimally-invasive laparoscopic hysterectomy, you probably have a few questions about the procedure, especially about what to expect during and after your surgery. During a laparoscopic hysterectomy, a surgeon removes the uterus and cervix through several small incisions in the abdomen. The fallopian tubes and ovaries may or may not be removed during this surgery.

Some common reasons that your physician might recommend a hysterectomy are:

  • Severe or abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Endometriosis
  • Prolapsed uterus
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Uterine or cervical cancer

Laparoscopic hysterectomies are typically associated with shorter, less painful recovery times than traditional open hysterectomies, which are performed through a single large incision in the abdomen. Below, learn what to expect during your laparoscopic hysterectomy recovery, as well as tips to make the healing process as smooth and painless as possible.

Laparoscopic hysterectomy recovery: prepare for success

One of the most important things that you can do before your hysterectomy is to find a skilled and experienced surgeon. Laparoscopic hysterectomies are complicated and the right surgeon can increase your chances for a smooth recovery. When choosing a surgeon, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You should be confident in your decision. Some things to ask a potential surgeon include:

  • How many laparoscopic surgeries have you performed?
  • How many times have you had to convert a laparoscopic surgery to an open surgery?
  • Why am I a good candidate for laparoscopic surgery?

Additionally, you will need to ask someone to take you home after your surgery, as you will be unable to drive. You may also need someone to help you with household chores for the first few days to a week after your surgery.

Laparoscopic hysterectomy recovery: surgery day

Laparoscopic hysterectomies may be outpatient, meaning that you’ll go home the same day as the procedure. However, some patients may stay in the hospital for one to two days after their surgery, depending on their overall health and doctor’s recommendations.

You will be under regional or general anesthesia for your hysterectomy procedure and will not feel pain. During your hysterectomy , a surgeon makes three to five small incisions in your abdomen. With the aid of a small camera attached to a thin tube, called a laparoscope, the surgeon removes the uterus and cervix through these incisions. They can then be closed with surgical tape or a minimal amount of stitches.

After your surgery, you will stay at the healthcare facility until your anesthesia wears off and you are able to eat and drink on your own. You will need someone to drive you home after your procedure.

Laparoscopic hysterectomy recovery: 1 to 2 weeks after surgery

After your surgery, you will need plenty of rest and fluids. Your doctor will recommend that you start walking as soon as possible after surgery. You should take short walks every day, increasing the distance that you walk as your body heals. This will promote healing and help prevent post-surgery complications such as deep vein thrombosis , or blood clots in a deep vein. Walking, staying hydrated, and eating a high-fiber diet can help prevent painful post-surgery constipation .

The first couple of weeks after your surgery will be the most difficult. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to help make the healing process more comfortable. You may start adding your normal activities as you feel up to it, but you should immediately stop any action that causes pain. Avoid any strenuous exercise, such as sit-ups or jogging, or lifting anything heavier than 10 lbs. until your doctor tells you it’s okay.

Your physician will give you specific instructions on showering after your surgery.

Some people may begin driving as soon as two to three days after their surgery, depending on their doctor’s recommendations. If you are taking pain medication, you might need to avoid driving for longer.

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After two weeks, many patients are able to stop taking their pain medication and return to work. However, if your job requires physical activity you may need to wait longer before going back.

Laparoscopic hysterectomy recovery: 3 to 6 weeks after surgery

It may take as long as four to six weeks for your energy levels to return to normal. After recovery, you should regularly see your gynecologist and primary physician for regular health care. You may or may not need cervical cancer screening and pelvic exams, depending on the type of hysterectomy that you had.

Your doctor will recommend that you avoid putting anything in your vagina for at least six to eight weeks after your surgery, including having sex and using tampons. After your doctor says it’s okay, you may resume sexual activity. For many patients, sexual function will return to pre-surgery levels. Some patients may experience increased sexual function if their hysterectomy was scheduled to treat chronic pain or heavy bleeding.

If you are premenopausal before your hysterectomy, and you had your ovaries removed in addition to your uterus and cervix, you may experience hormonal side effects following your procedure. These side effects are symptoms of menopause and include fatigue, lethargy, hot flashes, and mood fluctuations. Your doctor may be able to prescribe hormone replacement therapy to mitigate these effects.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your incisions show signs of infection .
  • You are having trouble breathing, drinking, eating, or going to the bathroom.
  • You have abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding.
  • You are nauseous or have a cough that won’t go away.

Emotional recovery from a hysterectomy

For some women, choosing to have a hysterectomy can be a difficult decision. A hysterectomy can drastically improve the quality of life in women suffering from anemia, fatigue, and pain due to issues with their reproductive health. However, the procedure means that you will no longer be able to bear children. It is normal to feel conflicting emotions about this surgery. Do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor for recommendations on coping with these emotions.

Laparoscopic hysterectomy recovery: paying for your surgery

Laparoscopic hysterectomies tend to cost more than traditional abdominal hysterectomies because they require special equipment and an experienced surgeon. However, if you would prefer to have a laparoscopic hysterectomy, don’t let the high price tag deter you. New Choice Health’s hysterectomy and gynecology surgery assistance program can help uninsured and underinsured patients find an affordable price for laparoscopic hysterectomies. The national average cost for a hysterectomy is $22,750, but Patient Assist members pay an average of $9,250. Learn more about New Choice Health’s Patient Assist program to save money on your hysterectomy today.

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Recovery After Hysterectomy: What to Know

The surgical method used to remove the uterus determines the recovery to expect.

Barbara Kean

By Barbara Kean Medically Reviewed by Kara Leigh Smythe, MD
Reviewed: October 9, 2022

a woman recovering from an abdominal hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a surgical operation to remove the uterus, the organ located in the female pelvis.

Attached to the uterus on each side is a single fallopian tube and one ovary.

During pregnancy, a fertilized egg implants itself in the lining of the uterus where the developing fetus is nourished prior to birth.

The uterus, or womb, is crucial for reproduction. After undergoing hysterectomy, a woman will no longer menstruate and she cannot become pregnant.

Hysterectomy Surgery and Recovery: Factors to Consider

As with any surgery, recovery varies from person to person. Some women recover more quickly and resume their everyday activities fairly quickly, while others need a bit more time.

But in the case of hysterectomy, the surgical method used to remove the uterus will determine the type of recovery to expect.

Methods Matter: What to Know About Hysterectomy Side Effects, Scarring, and Long-Term Healing

The way in which a hysterectomy is performed can play a major role in your recovery.

If you have an abdominal hysterectomy, you will have a 5- to 7-inch incision that needs to heal. This incision is usually closed with stitches — commonly the dissolvable kind — or surgical staples. If staples or nondissolvable stitches are used, they will have to be removed by your doctor. (1)

If you have a vaginal hysterectomy without the assistance of a laparoscope, you will have no visible scarring from the small incision in the vagina made by the surgeon. The internal stitches used will likely dissolve on their own. (2)

If you’ve had a vaginal hysterectomy and your surgeon inserted a laparoscope or other instruments into your abdomen, expect to have about two to four incisions, each less than 1 inch long covered with Steri-strips that will most likely fall off within a week. (2)

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How Long Do Women Need to Stay in the Hospital After Hysterectomy?

The length of a postoperative stay depends on how the surgery was performed. Women who’ve had an abdominal hysterectomy may stay in the hospital for one to two days.

Vaginal, laparoscopic-assisted vaginal, or robotic-assisted procedures are usually done on an outpatient basis. In most cases, a woman who has these less invasive procedures will either go home the same day after the procedure or stay overnight in the hospital, according to one report.

Be sure to discuss with your doctor in advance the various scenarios you may expect after surgery.

Can Women Eat Immediately After Undergoing Hysterectomy?

In most cases, according to one study, you will be able to eat and drink within the first 24 hours after an abdominal hysterectomy. However, it might take two to four more days before you have your first post-op bowel movement. That’s because the anesthesia, along with the manipulation of your organs that happens during the procedure, can cause the bowels to temporarily slow down. By the time you’ve been discharged, you should be passing gas. (3)

Does Hysterectomy Cause a Lot of Postoperative Pain?

If you undergo an abdominal hysterectomy your postoperative pain is generally greater than the pain after a laparoscopic or vaginal hysterectomy.

But this pain generally responds to narcotics that are given during the first 24 hours and perhaps for a bit longer if needed. By the second day, you may find that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), are enough to alleviate the pain.

Some women may not need any pain medication at all. But if they do, it can be controlled.

How Long Does It Take to Fully Recover From Hysterectomy?

If you have abdominal surgery, complete recovery can take six to eight weeks, so you must be patient and allow your body to heal. For at least six weeks, avoid any heavy lifting (meaning items over 20 pounds). Do not do any housework, such as vacuuming, until you’ve discussed it with your doctor. You must also abstain from sexual intercourse for at least six weeks. And do not put anything, including tampons, into your vagina.

If you have a vaginal hysterectomy or a laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy recovery can be as short as two weeks. Pain is generally minimal. You may feel some achiness and tenderness at the incision sites (if the surgery was performed laparoscopically). Most women will be advised to avoid heavy lifting and abstain from sex for at least six weeks.

Risks Related to Hysterectomy or Surgical Removal of the Uterus

Complications are usually rare; call your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Heavy bleeding or unusual vaginal mucus or discharge
  • Severe pain
  • Redness or discharge from incisions
  • Problems with urinating or having a bowel movement
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain

Hysterectomy and Short-Term Side Effects

You may experience some light vaginal bleeding that comes and goes during the first few weeks following surgery. Typically this will decrease over time.

Getting Back Into Daily Life, Returning to Work After Hysterectomy

Although you need plenty of rest following surgery, it’s important to get up and move around as soon as possible. Pace yourself and listen to your body. It’s completely normal to feel some fatigue.

You may need to take anywhere from two to six weeks off of work depending on the type of procedure.

Exercise and Physical Activity After Hysterectomy

You can resume normal exercise about six to eight weeks following an abdominal hysterectomy. If the procedure is laparoscopic, you might be able to resume low-intensity exercise in two to four weeks.

The Emotional Impact After the Uterus Is Removed

“Women have a wide range of emotions when it comes to having hysterectomy,” says Leena Nathan, MD, assistant clinical professor at UCLA Health Obstetrics and Gynecology in Westlake Village, California. “For women who are perimenopausal and suffering from fibroids or bleeding issues, there is a sense of relief when they have a permanent solution to their problems.”

“For women of childbearing age who have a hysterectomy for cancer or precancer, there can be a profound sense of loss, disappointment, and guilt,” adds Dr. Nathan.

Hysterectomy and Potential Long-Term Effects

Long-term effects vary from woman to woman depending on age, health, which organs were removed, and other factors.

Hysterectomy and Surgical or Induced Menopause: What to Expect

If you have your ovaries removed at the time of your hysterectomy and you haven’t reached menopause prior to the surgery, you will immediately go into what is called surgical, or induced, menopause. You may start experiencing symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness, although not everyone will have these symptoms.

During the natural lead-up to menopause, estrogen levels lower gradually, but surgical removal of the ovaries may cause estrogen levels to plummet. Your doctor may suggest hormone replacement therapy to alleviate some of the more severe symptoms of menopause.

Long-Term Health Effects Related to Hysterectomy

Some women develop pelvic floor weakness following a hysterectomy, which can lead to bladder or bowel problems, including urinary incontinence. Sometimes corrective surgery is needed.

Oophorectomy: When Ovaries Are Removed During Hysterectomy

Oophorectomy is the medical term for removing a woman’s ovaries.

For many years, research has indicated that whenever possible, it’s best not to remove the ovaries with hysterectomy because the organs will continue to produce estrogen that is essential for bone health and can help protect you from heart disease.

However, some recent research seems to indicate that some of these problems occur even when the ovaries are preserved or not removed. “Several recent studies have also shown long-term risks, including coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure,” says Shannon Laughlin-Tommasso, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist, as well as research consultant, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Laughlin-Tommasso authored one such study. (4)

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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