One of the advantages of having a minimally invasive hysterectomy is the shortened time for recovery in the majority of cases. It also means there is less loss of blood. Even though this type of surgery is performed in such a way that there is less scarring and less impact on your body, it is still major surgery, and as such you need to take care of yourself during the period of recovery.
Types of Minimally Invasive Hysterectomies
Your recovery time will depend on the type of hysterectomy you have. With the vaginal or laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy you can expect a recovery time of around two weeks in some cases. With this type of surgery a stay in the hospital is rarely required; and if it is, usually the stay is no more than one day. The least invasive hysterectomy is the laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy. Your recovery time could be as little as six days or two weeks.
Another type of minimally invasive hysterectomy is the robotic hysterectomy. In this procedure the surgery is performed by robotic arms which mimic the surgeon’s movements. It makes tiny incisions to remove the uterus. In most cases the patient can go home the next day. When the cervix is removed, the recovery is similar to that of a vaginal or laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy.
Many women who are candidates for the minimally invasive hysterectomy are able to go home shortly after the procedure is completed. You will have some discomfort and, depending on your level of pain, you may be given ibuprofen or a stronger, prescription pain reliever. You may need to continue taking medication for pain for a few days.
Resting After a Minimally Invasive Hysterectomy
Though you may be tempted to retire to the bedroom and cozy up in bed, it is recommended that you don’t stay in bed for recovery. As soon as you feel able, you should resume normal activities with some caution. If your job is physically demanding, you will want to plan on taking two to three weeks off before returning to work. For those with less demanding jobs, usually only one week is needed after having a minimally invasive hysterectomy.
Precautions for the First Week or More
While resuming regular activities as soon as possible is recommended, heavy lifting is not. It puts a strain on the pelvic floor and can interfere with recovery. There is no certain weight that can be given because each woman is different; therefore leave the heavy lifting to others for the time being. Sexual intercourse will need to be put on hold for a few weeks as well. This could last up to two months or until you are fully healed. Many women report that after healing their sex life was either the same or better than before the hysterectomy. Check with your doctor before having sexual intercourse to make sure you are completely healed.
Physical Changes with Minimally Invasive Hysterectomies
If your ovaries are removed, you can expect a few physical changes if you have not been through menopause. The ovaries produce hormones that direct your cycle. Without them, your body reacts similarly to what would happen if you were going through menopause. This means you can expect hot flashes and possible mood swings as your body becomes adjusted to the change in hormone levels.
Feelings of Relief
Many women who have been dealing with pain, heaving periods and other discomforts find relief when they have a minimally invasive hysterectomy. They feel as if they have been given a new lease on life. Even with some of the problems encountered with hormone levels changing, the difference can be very dramatic pre- and post-operative. Some women choose hormone therapy to help cope with the changes they are faced with when the ovaries are removed.
Other women who need to have a minimally invasive hysterectomy and have not had children, or wanted more children, often find themselves grieving the loss of their ability to have children. This can be a very difficult hurdle to overcome in your recovery; however, realize the necessity of the procedure. Those who have had the surgery as a result of illness or cancer may also have feelings of depression. Be sure to share these feelings with your doctor. There are medications as well as counseling which can help you with dealing with your feelings.
Getting Back to Normal
Stay in touch with your doctor and be sure to follow all instructions as given. Your doctor will advise you on which activities you can resume and when. Depending on the type of procedure you had performed, your recovery can take as little as a couple of weeks. Remember that full recovery will take a little longer. Be patient with yourself and be good to yourself.
At Cypress Women’s Center we provide you with the care and information you need to make your life comfortable when undergoing a major surgery such as a minimally invasive hysterectomy. We are here to help you with all your female health issues and help you stay on the road to a healthy recovery.