Abdominal surgery is done by laparotomy (“lapar” means abdomen, “otomy” means to open) with one larger incision, or laparoscopy (“lapar” means abdomen, “scopy” refers to a tube with a light) with multiple small incisions. Laparoscopy is an example of Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS), which allows for quicker recovery.
Recovery after laparoscopic surgery is generally 2 weeks, but it can be longer for procedures such as hysterectomy. Hysterectomy (“hyster” means uterus, “ectomy” means to remove) can be total or partial.Total hysterectomy is removal of cervix and uterine body. Management of ovaries and fallopian tubes is separate. Partial hysterectomy is the removal of the uterine body and the cervix is conserved. This is Supracervical Hysterectomy. In recent years, for cervical cancer, when the patient desires to keep her fertility, the cervix can be removed and the uterine body is conserved. The uterine body is anastomosed (surgically connected) to the vaginal canal.
If there is a vaginal incision, such as with total hysterectomy or removal of the cervix, then there is no douching, tampons, sexual intercourse, swimming for 6 weeks to avoid infection, bleeding, trauma.
Every surgeon has an idea of what works best for their patients. Therefore, I can only give my recommendations.
With supracervical hysterectomy, there is no vaginal incision. Therefore, there is less concern of vaginal infection. No douching, tampon, sexual intercourse, tub soaks, swimming for 3 weeks after surgery. Mini-laparotomy incision is used for specimen removal. There is No lifting more than 15 pounds, No heavy exertion or straining, and No abdominal exercises for 6 weeks.
Band-aids are removed the morning of the first day, and band-aids are not replaced. Steri strips stay on the incisions. Shower every day, starting day #1. Soap and water can run directly over the incisions. Gently blot dry. Walking is very important to the post-surgical recovery. Walk 4-5 times per day, whatever distance and duration they feel up to doing. Between walking, get some rest. Fatigue is common right after surgery. Endurance will continue to improve over time.
I keep in contact with the patient as she is healing. I give information on what the patient needs to know at that time and individualize according to the patient’s needs.