What Is A Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a procedure to remove a woman’s uterus, and in some cases the cervix and ovaries. It is used primarily as a treatment for serious health concerns, including cancer of the uterus or cervix, fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, abnormal bleeding, or chronic pelvic pain. This procedure is done through either an abdominal incision or a less-invasive vaginal or laparoscopic technique.
After a hysterectomy, a woman no longer has the ability to become pregnant, and so those who might someday wish to become pregnant should ask about alternatives to this procedure. In the case of cancer, a hysterectomy may be the only option, but for other conditions, including fibroids, endometriosis and uterine prolapse, there may be less invasive treatments that can be attempted first.
which involves the removal of only the uterus, leaving the cervix intact. In more serious circumstances a total hysterectomy that removes both the uterus and the cervix together may be required. For women over age 45, a hysterectomy may also include the removal of one or both ovaries along with the fallopian tubes, a procedure called a total hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy.
The degree of the procedure,
as well as the approach and the specific incisions used, depend on several factors, including the reason for your hysterectomy, the need to explore the upper abdomen, the size of your uterus and the presence of any scars from prior abdominal surgeries. In some cases, a traditional approach using a single abdominal incision beneath the bikini line may be required, while in others a less-invasive laparoscopic technique or even a vaginal approach may be possible. A complete diagnosis of the patient’s individual health requirements is necessary in order to determine how best to proceed.
Regardless of the surgical approach, a hysterectomy is a serious surgical procedure that usually requires a hospital stay of one to two days, or perhaps longer, depending on the circumstances. After a hysterectomy, it may take an average of six weeks before you are fully able to resume normal activities.
Not necessarily. Depending on the surgeon’s experience, the specific reason for the hysterectomy, and the patient’s overall health, a hysterectomy can be performed in a number of different ways. Surgeons using the traditional “open” technique will make a 5 to 7 inch incision, either up-and-down or side-to-side, across the belly, which may leave a scar that will gradually fade over time. Other patients may be candidates for a minimally invasive procedure, or MIP, which uses laparoscopic techniques that leave little or no visible scarring. The vaginal approach is performed through a vaginal incision therefore abdominal incisions are not used. However, these alternative techniques may not be appropriate for every patient, so you should talk to Dr. Gould or your provider at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett about whether your particular circumstances make you a suitable candidate.
A woman will generally spend anywhere from one to two days in the hospital after a hysterectomy, or for a longer period depending on the specific approach used and each woman’s health. After an open abdominal hysterectomy, women generally require between four and six weeks before being able to fully return to regular activities. Women undergoing a less-invasive laparoscopic or vaginal procedure generally require only an average of three to four weeks for full recovery. While recovering from a hysterectomy, women should get plenty of rest, maintain light activity and exercise while avoiding strenuous activity and heavy lifting, avoid sexual activity, and follow all other post-operative instructions.