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Hysterectomy – surgery, recovery, and risks

Goficure - Blog Page - Hysterectomy – surgery, recovery, and risks (Blog Post) Last Updated April 18, 2024

Overview

A hysterectomy is a procedure to remove the uterus (womb). It is mostly performed in older women who have crossed the age of 40 or 50 years.

The surgery is performed to treat health problems that affect the female reproductive organs such as heavy periods, ovarian cancer, fibroids, long-term pelvic pain, etc.

Hysterectomy is a major surgery and before deciding to undergo the procedure, you must take into consideration factors like:

  • Your medical history
  • Your overall health
  • The doctor’s recommendation
  • The type of hysterectomy you must undergo
  • Your physical and mental well-being before and after the surgery
  • Implications of hysterectomy

What happens during a hysterectomy?

The surgery depends on your condition and whether the surgeon should only remove the uterus or other organs of the reproductive system.

There are several kinds of hysterectomy:

Total hysterectomy

The uterus and the cervix are removed. It is generally performed to reduce or stop the spreading of cancer.

Subtotal or supracervical hysterectomy (partial hysterectomy)

The entire uterus is removed leaving the cervix in place. If the cervix is left behind, it increases the possibility of developing cervical cancer in the future. Women undergoing subtotal hysterectomy are advised to go for regular cervical screening tests.

Total hysterectomy with bilateral Salpingo-oophorectomy

The surgery removes the uterus, cervix, and both the fallopian tubes and the ovaries. It is mainly performed if there is a high risk of ovarian cancer or ovarian cysts and is even performed to treat some kinds of breast cancers.

Radical hysterectomy

A radical hysterectomy is performed to treat cancers. The surgery removes:

  • The entire uterus
  • Cervix
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Ovaries
  • Fatty tissues
  • Lymph glands

There are different kinds of hysterectomy procedures.

Hysterectomy procedures can be abdominal, laparoscopic (keyhole surgery), robotic, or vaginal.

The surgeon will choose the procedure depending on your condition, preference, medical history, and reason for the surgery.

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How to recover from hysterectomy?

After a hysterectomy, you have to spend a brief time in the hospital for recovery. Since a hysterectomy is a major surgery, you need to take adequate rest at home for full recovery and healing.

In the hospital, after the day of your surgery, the doctor and the nurse will encourage you to move around to help with blood circulation. It reduces the risks of developing blood clots.

Once the catheter is removed, you will be able to urinate normally.

Stitches will be removed within 5 to 7 days post-surgery.

Hysterectomy recovery time depends on the type of surgery, your age, and overall health.

Recovery is faster in vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy which is less invasive compared to abdominal hysterectomy. You will be discharged home within one to four days after the surgery.

After abdominal surgery, you may have to stay in the hospital for up to 5 days.

The recovery period for vaginal and laparoscopic can be 6 days to 2 weeks. For abdominal hysterectomy, recovery may take 6 to 8 weeks.

During this period, do not lift any heavy loads as it can stretch the surrounding tissues and the abdominal muscles which need time to heal.

After hysterectomy, it is normal to experience some menopausal symptoms as the body is still adjusting to the change in hormonal levels.

There may be symptoms of hot flashes, mood swings, or vaginal dryness. Some women may also feel depressed or have a sense of loss after the removal of the uterus or ovaries.

During the hysterectomy recovery period, your body is going through changes and you may feel overwhelmed or emotionally vulnerable. Consult your doctor or seek emotional support from your friends, family, spouse, or a mental health practitioner.

Stop your suffering NOW

Don't just jump into a surgery because your doctor is advising you to go for it. Consult our doctors to know if you need a surgery at all. Rest assured, we WON'T recommend you surgery unless it's the last resort.

What are the risks of hysterectomy?

After hysterectomy, it is common to have some short-term side effects such as constipation, vaginal discharge, bleeding, spotting, pain, fatigue, etc. These symptoms subside within a few weeks and can be managed with pain medications and adequate rest.

Research studies show that vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomies have lower risks of developing long-term complications compared to abdominal hysterectomy.

Complications of hysterectomy may include:

Complications due to general anesthetic

This is a rare complication. People may develop allergic reactions, nerve damage, or even death which is in rare cases.

Hemorrhage

Heavy bleeding or hemorrhage after the surgery.

Abdominal organs damage

The surgery may damage the bowel or the bladder resulting in incontinence or infections.

Blood clots

Immobility after surgery may lead to blood clots or thrombosis.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

After surgery, there is a risk of developing urinary tract infections.

Early menopausal symptoms

After the ovaries are removed, you will experience early menopausal symptoms like hot flushes, vaginal dryness, sweating, etc.

Emotional vulnerability

The physical change may impact mental health. Hysterectomy means that you cannot be pregnant or have periods. Some women, especially those of childbearing age who had to undergo the surgery for medical reasons may grieve as they may no longer be able to conceive.

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Final words

Hysterectomy makes lifetime changes in your health and quality of life. While some people may feel relieved to experience early menopause, some may feel a sense of sadness. If you are considering pregnancy, consult your doctor and look for other options of treatment before going for the surgery.

Dos
  • Maintain good hygiene after the procedure
  • Eat protein-rich foods that help in tissue-building and aid healing
  • Wear breathable cotton clothes
Don'ts
  • Put pressure on the stitches
  • Eat fatty or oily foods
  • Ignore symptoms of infection or post-operative complications

 

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