Laparoscopic Hysterectomy — The Recovery Process

Although a laparoscopic (keyhole) hysterectomy is not as traumatic as an abdominal or vaginal one, there is still a recovery process that you must go through before your body can return to normal.  Here are some tips on how to ensure a speedy recovery following laparoscopic hysterectomy.

The pain

Even following keyhole surgery to remove your uterus, you will still feel a degree of pain.  You may also experience nausea caused by the general anaesthetic.  Your laparoscopic services team in the hospital will provide you with drug therapy to relieve both of these issues.

Dressings and other post-operative items

Immediately following your procedure, you will have:

  • a dressing placed over your wound
  • a catheter to drain urine from your bladder
  • a drip in your arm
  • HRT drugs (if you have had your ovaries removed)

The catheter is there to allow nursing staff to monitor your fluid output following surgery and will be removed within 24 hours.  The drip is usually there to provide fluids and/or painkillers and will also be removed within 24 hours of your procedure.  The dressing is necessary to keep your wound clean and will require changing every day.

The day following your procedure, you will be helped out of bed and encouraged to walk around the hospital ward.  This is to aid your circulation and reduce the risk of clotting.

Recovery period

Following your laparoscopic hysterectomy, you should be well enough to leave hospital within a few days.  Although you'll still need to visit your GP every few weeks for check-ups, you shouldn't need to go back to hospital, provided that your recovery proceeds without complications.

For at least six weeks post-procedure you should not lift anything heavier than a kettle of water.  Although your wound will be very small, you must remember that your body has suffered a considerable trauma internally and will take around six weeks to recover completely. 

You should refrain from driving for a few weeks after your operation, until you can comfortably wear a seatbelt and safely perform an emergency stop.

Possible complications

You may find that you experience constipation for the first week or so following your surgery.  This is often caused by the side-effects of a general anaesthetic and can be relieved easily by taking a mild over-the-counter laxative.

Urinary tract infections can also set in.  If you experience pain when you pee, notice any bleeding or vaginal discharge, or feel as though you are running a temperature, you should consult your GP straight away.

Feelings of depression are common following hysterectomy surgery.  You may feel tearful and experience a sense of loss.  These feelings should subside within a month or so following treatment, as your hormones settle down again.  If you feel extremely 'down' or experience the feeling that you might want to harm yourself, consult your GP straight away.

Back to work

If you don't have a manual occupation, you should be able to go back to work within a month or two.  However, it is a good idea to ask your employer if you can come back on slightly reduced hours until you feel completely back to normal again.

Exercising and sex

it's a good idea to exercise following your operation.  However, it is best to avoid gym work or activities such as yoga or Pilates that entail stretching and bending down for at least two months following surgery.  Walking is fine and swimming is also beneficial.

You can resume your sex life as before once your operation scars have healed completely and any vaginal discharge has ceased.

A hysterectomy is a major operation.  Although laparoscopic surgery is less traumatic than other methods, you'll still need to bear in mind the above when recovering.