Laparoscopic hysterectomy procedure

A laparoscopic hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus and cervix through small incisions on the abdomen. There are typically 3-4 incisions that are smaller than 1 centimeter.

What conditions can laparoscopic hysterectomy treat?

Some common conditions treated include abnormal bleeding, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis and pelvic pain.

Benefits of a laparoscopic hysterectomy

  • Overall less scarring externally and internally
  • Less pain and need for medications
  • Quicker recovery and return to activities
  • Less blood loss and wound complications

What to expect during and after a laparoscopic hysterectomy?

The day of surgery

When you first arrive for your procedure:

  • A nurse will review your health history and medications.
  • You will get an IV line in your arm to receive fluids and any required medication.
  • Your anesthesiologist will check in with you to answer any questions.

You will be taken to the operating room after it’s completely set up.

  • The anesthesiologist will give you general anesthesia so you won’t be awake during the procedure.
  • To perform the hysterectomy, your surgeon will make only small incisions on your belly. Depending on the method you already discussed with your surgeon, the uterus itself will be removed through the abdomen or vagina. This decision is made based on the size and shape of your uterus, as well as the reason for your surgery.
  • The surgery will take 2-4 hours.

Once the surgery is complete, you will be gently woken up and taken to the recovery area.

  • A nurse will monitor you closely.
  • Most patients can go home the same day.

If needed, you can be moved to a private room to stay overnight.

The first few days after surgery

General anesthesia may cause you to feel drowsy or sleepy.

  • You’ll need someone over age 18 to drive you home.
  • You should not do anything that requires judgement or physical coordination for 24 hours after your procedure.
  • After the first 24 hours, you can return to normal activities as tolerated.

You can eat a normal diet, but may feel some nausea immediately after the surgery because of the anesthesia.

  • To help with nausea, try to keep your diet light with foods such as dry crackers, liquids or softer foods.

You may have some pain in the abdomen, pelvic area or where the incisions were made.

  • Try first to take over-the-counter pain medicine — ibuprofen or Tylenol. Follow the package directions.
  • Most patients are sent home with a narcotic pain medication. If needed, this can be used for one week or less.

You may also have some pain from the carbon dioxide gas placed in the abdomen during surgery.

  • This gas can irritate the nerves of the diaphragm, causing pain in the right shoulder or neck.
  • This pain should go away in a couple of days.

You may shower the day after surgery.

  • The incisions and bandages can get wet; just make sure to gently pat them dry.

The first week after surgery

As you recover, we encourage you to increase your daily activity.

  • We recommend 30 minutes of walking per day.
  • By the end of the first week you should be moving comfortably around your home.

The steristrips, or small bandages on top of the incisions, can generally be removed after the first week.

Full recovery

Complete recovery from a hysterectomy generally takes 6-8 weeks. During this time:

  • You may have light vaginal bleeding or spotting. You may use a pantyliner or pad, but avoid tampons.
  • Although we recommend daily walking, refrain from lifting more than 15-25 pounds.
  • Expect some change in your energy level. It takes time for the fatigue to improve.
  • It’s common to be constipated after a hysterectomy, so drink more water and other fluids. We also encourage the use of stool softeners for a few weeks after surgery.
  • You can safely resume intercourse around 8 weeks after your procedure.

If your ovaries were removed at the same time as the hysterectomy, you may experience symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats.

  • Hormone management or replacement can be discussed with your doctor before surgery or any time during your recovery.

Why choose Ohio State for gynecologic care and minimally invasive surgery?

Our providers have been fellowship trained in advanced gynecologic and minimally invasive surgery. They’ve gained special expertise to treat advanced endometriosis, uterine fibroids and complex surgical conditions through laparoscopic and robotic surgery. Their practice is dedicated to these conditions.

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