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Hysterectomy Treatment Information
What to Expect
Your doctor may order blood and imaging tests before the hysterectomy to determine the size of the uterine fibroids and to make sure you are healthy enough for surgery.
Be sure to tell your doctor about all medicines and supplements that you take. You may be asked to stop taking certain medicines before surgery such as:
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
Follow your doctor's instructions the night before the procedure. Typically, you will be asked to:
- Not eat or drink after midnight
- Restrict certain medicines
If you are having an abdominal hysterectomy, you should expect to stay in the hospital for one or two days. Most women usually go home the next day after vaginal, laparoscopic and robotic-assisted hysterectomies.
On the day of your surgery, take any medicines your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water and be sure to arrive at the hospital on time.
- When you arrive at the hospital, you will be taken to the pre-op room where you will change into a hospital gown.
- You will then meet with your surgeon, the nurses and an anesthesiologist in the pre-op room. This is your chance to ask any questions you may have about the procedure.
- The anesthesiologist may insert an IV line in your arm or wrist to deliver fluids and pain medicine. He or she may also prep you for sedation.
- You will be taken to the operating room once you are ready for surgery.
- The surgery team will attach devices to your body to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure.
- If not done in the pre-op room, a nurse or technologist will insert an IV line into a vein in your hand or arm so that you can receive sedative medicine.
- The anesthesiologist will give you general or spinal anesthesia so that you are asleep and feel no pain during the surgery.
- The surgery team will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, blood loss and breathing during the procedure.
- If you are undergoing an abdominal, a laparoscopic or a robotic-assisted hysterectomy, a nurse will sterilize the incision sites on your abdomen.
- The surgeon will numb the incision site or sites with a local anesthetic.
- If you are undergoing an abdominal hysterectomy, the surgeon will make either a horizontal incision at your bikini line or a vertical incision between your belly button and pubic bone.
- If you are undergoing a laparoscopic or robotic-assisted hysterectomy, the surgeon will make three small incisions in the abdomen.
- Once the uterus has been removed, the surgeon will close and cover the incisions with a dressing to keep them clean and promote healing.
- If you are undergoing a vaginal hysterectomy, the surgeon will remove the uterus (and ovaries and fallopian tubes if appropriate) through the vagina. He or she will then sew the top of the vagina together, leaving no external scars.
After surgery, you will be moved to a recovery room where a nurse will monitor your vital signs as you are waking up. You will be given pain medicine to help you feel better. The surgeon will encourage you to get out of bed and move around as soon as possible to speed recovery and prevent blood clots in your legs. He or she will also encourage you to use the bathroom as soon as you can. If you had an abdominal hysterectomy, you may have a catheter inserted into your bladder to help you pass urine.
Depending on the type of hysterectomy, you will spend one, two or more nights in the hospital. You usually need two days to recover after an abdominal hysterectomy. You will likely go home the next day after a vaginal, laparoscopic or robotic-assisted hysterectomy.
You can eat a normal diet as long as you are not vomiting and do not feel nauseous.
The surgeon will talk with you after the procedure to see how you are feeling and address any issues or concerns.
If the surgeon ordered pathology or other tests on the uterine or fibroid tissue, he or she will discuss the results with you or tell you when the results will be ready.
How long it takes you to recover from your procedure depends on the type of hysterectomy. Average recovery times are:
- Four to six weeks for an abdominal hysterectomy
- Three to four weeks for a vaginal hysterectomy
- Two to four weeks for a laparoscopic or robotic-assisted hysterectomy
You should avoid the following while you are healing:
- Lifting objects that weigh more than 20 pounds
- Sexual intercourse
If the ovaries were removed during the hysterectomy, early onset menopause will begin and you will likely experience a reduced sex drive. This is because the ovaries make hormones responsible for sexual function.
Your doctor may recommend hormone or estrogen replacement therapy to prevent bone loss and heart disease and maintain sexual health.
You can expect to see your surgeon within four to six weeks after surgery. He or she will talk with you about how you are feeling and will check your incision sites to make sure they have properly healed.
Be sure to tell the surgeon if you have any new symptoms such as:
- Pelvic weakness
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain during intercourse
He or she can recommend exercises, medicines and other therapies to help reduce these symptoms.
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