Surgery

Preparing for a Hysterectomy



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Your operation is scheduled, and you are experiencing an odd combination of emotions including anxiety, sadness, relief, excitement, and happiness. This could be an event that you have been planning for a long period of time or a surprise that came out of nowhere, like a thunderstorm on an otherwise clear and sunny day. Either way, you are bound to have questions about the procedure and how to prepare for it.

There are three main types of hysterectomies. Abdominal hysterectomy is the traditional form of hysterectomy. This requires surgeons to make an incision across the abdomen to perform the operation. This type of hysterectomy is most often performed if the ovaries need to be removed or there is some other extensive work doctors need to perform besides simply removing the uterus. Patients suffering from large fibroids, severe endometriosis, cancer, or any serious condition will most likely need an abdominal hysterectomy. A more modern approach to the traditional hysterectomy is an option for patients that need less extensive work performed. This is called a laparoscopic hysterectomy. It is completed using a thin telescopic instrument that can be inserted into the abdomen through small incisions. As little as one incision the size of one-half an inch may be all that is needed; however, up to four small incisions may be required. Either way, it is far less invasive than an abdominal hysterectomy and was developed to allow the patient less pain and a more rapid recovery. Since the cervix is preserved, this type of surgery will not be an option for patients with cervical cancer. Lastly, with vaginal hysterectomy, an incision is made in the vagina to remove the uterus. This may be done with or without the laparoscopic approach. Because the cervix can be removed, vaginal hysterectomy may be an option for patients with cervical cancer if the cancer is caught in the early stage.

Although abdominal hysterectomy sounds significantly more involved, there is no reason to be anxious if you are scheduled for this type of hysterectomy. I had this form of surgery five years ago, recovered quickly, and doctors were able to address other issues at the same time, which meant no need to return for multiple surgeries.

No matter which type of hysterectomy you will be having or why you will need it, preparing for it emotionally and physically will be much the same. Here are some tips to help you prepare for this event:

The healthier you are, the easier your operation will be. Take good care of yourself, eat nutritious foods, and exercise.
It is not uncommon for women to experience strong emotions when faced with the fact that they will be getting a hysterectomy. Find a support group.
Most fear is a result of the unknown. Get educated on this subject. To make sure you are getting the reliable information on this subject, get your educational materials from your hospital or clinic that you will be having the procedure performed at.
Expect to be in the hospital up to six days if you will be getting an abdominal hysterectomy and up to three days if getting a laparoscopic or vaginal hysterectomy.
Recovery after surgery will last up to six weeks for an abdominal hysterectomy and up to four weeks for a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy. Make sure you have someone who will be able to help you with household duties and errands during this time, but try to get the majority of these things done before surgery.
A comfortable bed with clean sheets waiting for you upon arrival will be welcome. Prepare this before you leave on the morning of your surgery or have someone do this for you.
It is very important that you follow your doctor's instructions for a rapid and trouble-free recovery. Instructions will include taking pain medication and avoiding strenuous physical activity, including lifting.
If you are like me, your best friend after surgery will be a heating pad. Apply this to your abdomen if the pain is not relieved from medication.

Many women report feeling better than ever after having a hysterectomy. I certainly did, and it is likely you will too!

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