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What Is the Recovery Time for a Laparoscopic Hysterectomy?

After two weeks of surgery, most people can increase their activity.After two weeks of surgery, most people can increase their activity.

The recovery time for a laparoscopic hysterectomy depends on several factors, most importantly the general health of the person being operated on. The recovery time is usually faster than that for conventional hysterectomies, and most patients can go home one or two days after the surgery. They can walk on the day after the surgery. Most people can drive by the third or fourth day after surgery unless they are on narcotic pain relievers.

Complete recovery may take four to six weeks, of which the first two weeks are often the most difficult. There may be a need to take medications for pain relief regularly for around two weeks.

After two weeks of surgery, most people can increase their activity. They may be able to do work such as desk or office work and light walking. It is advisable not to jog, do sit-ups, or participate in sports unless the doctor allows. Sexual intercourse is generally allowed 12 weeks post the surgery. Using tampons, douching, or putting anything else into the vagina is prohibited for the first 8-12 weeks.

How is a laparoscopic hysterectomy done?

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. Laparoscopic hysterectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove the uterus. The recovery is faster, and post-operative discomfort is minimal with a laparoscopic hysterectomy.

The surgery involves making a few small incisions, about one-half-inch long, on the abdomen. One of these incisions is made over or near the belly button through which a thin, flexible device with a light and camera source (laparoscope) is inserted for allowing the surgeon to see the pelvic organs. The image from the laparoscope can be seen on a TV screen during the surgery. Through the other small incisions, specialized surgical instruments are inserted to perform the surgery. The uterus may be removed with or without the removal of the ovaries and/or the cervix (the neck of the uterus).

A laparoscopic hysterectomy may remove the small pieces through the incisions, through a larger incision made in the abdomen, or through the vagina (called a laparoscopic vaginal hysterectomy or LAVH).

A laparoscopic hysterectomy may be done with the help of a robotic machine controlled by the surgeon. This is called a robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy. The outcome is similar to that of the laparoscopic hysterectomy performed without robotic assistance.

What are the risks of a laparoscopic hysterectomy?

A laparoscopic hysterectomy is usually a safe procedure providing a shorter hospital stay, fewer complications, and faster recovery compared with an abdominal hysterectomy. Generally, patients can return to their normal activities sooner. There are, however, certain risks associated with laparoscopic surgery. The procedure can take longer to perform than abdominal or vaginal surgery, especially when it is a robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy. 

Some of the risks associated with a laparoscopic hysterectomy are as follows:

  • Complications related to general anesthesia
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Injury to the ureter or bladder
  • Bowel injury
  • Infections
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clots, especially in the deep veins of the legs, that may travel to the lungs)
  • Damage to the ovaries including ovary failure
  • Vaginal problems
  • Early menopause

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