Tips on How to Recover from Your Hysterectomy
Are you thinking about undergoing a hysterectomy? Or have you already scheduled the procedure but are wondering exactly what the recovery will entail? Remember to give your body time to heal and don’t forget about your mental health too.
Although a hysterectomy is a major surgery, advancements in healthcare and technology have made the procedure less invasive and the recovery easier. There are a variety of hysterectomy types. Every woman’s body is different and will react uniquely to the surgery. Most women need six or more weeks to fully recover and jump back into their previous routine and life. Find out the necessary essentials for healing both body and mind after a hysterectomy.
Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: Smaller Incision, Shorter Recovery
The first recorded abdominal hysterectomy was performed in 1843. In the 1930s some advances were made but early hysterectomies were dangerous, mainly due to postoperative infections. Those days are long gone. Today, with medical advances and refined technology, a hysterectomy has become a safe surgery that is much less invasive than back in the day.
One of the major advances was the advent of endoscopic surgery in 1988 when the first laparoscopic hysterectomy was successfully performed. This minimally invasive type of hysterectomy is now the most common one performed. Patients who undergo a laparoscopic hysterectomy can usually return home within a couple of hours post-surgery. They only require two or three small incisions in the lower abdomen, drastically decreasing postoperative pain and causing less scarring.
Using a laparoscopic camera, the procedure usually takes an hour or two.
The Road to Recovery
- Just move: It may seem counterintuitive but the fastest way to heal is to flex those muscles as soon as possible. Of course, listen to your doctor’s orders and wait until he or she gives you the nod to get moving. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are dangerous blood clots that can develop from long periods of bed rest or sitting, making the post-surgery time potentially deadly. If a blood clot breaks off and travels up through the bloodstream to the lungs, a pulmonary embolism can occur.
- What types of exercise can you do? It depends on the type of hysterectomy you have, but most doctors will recommend easing back into your exercise routine about two weeks after surgery. You’ll probably still be a little sore the first week but should feel good enough to start light exercise two weeks post-operation. Walking, gentle yoga (check on the specific poses) or swimming are a few exercises that should be fine after a hysterectomy.
- What should you avoid? No barbells or crunches for a while. Anything that requires heavy lifting involves the abdominal muscles which can place a strain on your incision and could cause a hernia. So don’t lift anything that exceeds 10 pounds. Also, stay away from sit-ups, crunches, certain yoga poses and anything else that places stress on the abdomens for at least a month.
- Can you drive? The abrupt reflexes required to drive a car, hitting the brakes, and the clutch if you drive a manual, can place added pressure on your abdomen and incision. Talk to your doctor about driving post-surgery. Some physicians may advise that you practice being a passenger for at least two weeks after surgery.
While incisions these days are much smaller, they are still the result of a serious surgery and need to be taken care of very methodically. Read below to learn the details of incision care:
- How do you clean the incision? When you’re discharged your doctor will give you detailed instructions on how to care for your incision. Most likely, your doctor will advise that you keep your incision area clean and dry and cleanse it daily with soap and water. Wearing loose-fitting clothes that don’t irritate the incision or the skin around it is also essential.
- How do I tell if it’s infected? Swelling, redness and drainage issues are all signs that the incision may be infected. In addition, infections are often accompanied by a fever. If you experience any of those symptoms contact your doctor or emergency personnel, immediately.
- Yes to Sex? Of course most patients want to know when they can resume normal sexual activity. Doctors usually advise that women wait between six to eight weeks post-hysterectomy (depending on the type of procedure) to have sex. This directive includes placing anything in the vagina, including a tampon.
- Drink up! Constipation may be one of the worst side effects of a hysterectomy. This uncomfortable issue can be avoided, or at least curtailed, a couple of ways:
- Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water to keep your body replenished and replace any loss of fluids.
- Use stool softeners. Check with your doctor first but over-the-counter medicines to “help you go” may be the best way to keep you regular.
- Let your body be your guide. Every surgery is different and so is every woman. That means how your body will react post hysterectomy will be unique to you.
Dr. Ghozland is an expert in performing minimally invasive hysterectomies. If you’d like to learn more about the types of procedures he can perform please explore the hysterectomy menu. Or if you would like to schedule an appointment please call our office at (310) 393-9359 or request to schedule an appointment online.