There are several ways a hysterectomy may be performed, depending on the reason for the procedure and the patient’s overall health.
The type of procedure performed can affect the recovery time. Immediately following a hysterectomy, patients may stay in the hospital for several days and it can take up to 4 months for recovery, depending on the type of procedure, the reasons it was performed, the patient’s age and their overall health.
- Abdominal hysterectomy is performed with an incision, usually in the lower abdomen
- Up to 5 days before patients may be able to leave the hospital
- Six to eight weeks before full recovery
- Vaginal hysterectomy is performed through a small incision in the vagina
- Laparoscopic hysterectomy involves small incisions in the abdomen or the vagina through which a thin, lighted tube and a small camera are inserted, and the uterus is removed through the small incisions
- Robotic surgery uses a robotic arm guided by the doctor that is inserted into small incisions in the lower abdomen, similar to a laparoscopic hysterectomy
- Patients may be able to leave the hospital between one to four days after vaginal, laparoscopic, or robotic hysterectomy
- Recovery time for these procedures is shorter than for an abdominal hysterectomy
Patients are advised to rest as much as possible and avoid heavy lifting during recovery while the abdominal muscles and surrounding tissues heal.
What Is a Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure performed on women to remove the uterus (womb) and cervix. In some cases, the fallopian tubes and ovaries are also removed.
About 600,000 hysterectomies are performed on women each year in the U.S., making it the most common type of non–pregnancy-related major surgery.
There are different types of hysterectomies, depending on what other structures are removed along with the uterus.
- Total hysterectomy
- The most common type of hysterectomy
- Removal of all of the uterus, including the cervix
- Ovaries and fallopian tubes may or may not be removed
- Partial hysterectomy (also called subtotal or supracervical hysterectomy)
- Removal of only the upper part of the uterus, leaving the cervix in place
- Ovaries may or may not be removed
- Radical hysterectomy
- Removal of all of the uterus, cervix, the tissue on both sides of the cervix, and the upper part of the vagina
- Used to treat certain types of cancer, such as cervical cancer
- Fallopian tubes and ovaries may or may not be removed
The decision to remove the ovaries usually depends on the reason for the hysterectomy. Ovaries may be removed in some patients to lower the risk for ovarian cancer. Ovaries are often left intact in women who are not at risk for ovarian cancer because they produce estrogen, which helps protect women from conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis.
Why Is A Hysterectomy Performed?
A hysterectomy is performed to treat various conditions, such as:
- Uterine cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Some cases of cervical cancer
- Other conditions that can cause disabling levels of pain, abnormal uterine bleeding, and emotional stress
- Uterine fibroids: noncancerous growths in the wall of the uterus that can cause pain and heavy menstrual bleeding
- Endometriosis: endometrial cells (the lining of the uterus) grow outside of the uterus and can cause severe pain and bleeding between periods
- Uterine prolapse: occurs when the muscles and tissues of the pelvic floor can no longer support the uterus, and it slips down into the vagina which can cause urinary and bowel problems and pelvic pressure
- Adenomyosis: the inner lining of the uterus grows into the muscle wall of the uterus (myometrium) causing severe pain and heavy menstrual periods
- Heavy or irregular vaginal bleeding
What Are the Side Effects and Complications of a Hysterectomy?
Side effects and complications of a hysterectomy include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Injury to adjacent organs such as the bowel, bladder, ureter, or major blood vessels
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Nerve damage
- Postoperative blood clot (thromboembolism)
- Early-onset of menopause
- Loss of ovarian function
- Possible greater increase in body mass index (BMI) in the years following the procedure
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