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Must-know Information About Abdominal Hysterectomy Recovery

Abdominal hysterectomy recovery depends on the condition being treated, its complications, and overall health of the patient. This article talks about this subject in greater detail.
Rajib Singha
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2018
Hysterectomy is a surgery undertaken to remove the uterus, totally or partly. In abdominal hysterectomy, the uterus is removed by making an incision in the lower abdomen. In some cases, the surgery may be required to remove one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes. Abdominal hysterectomy is recommended for women with a large uterus, or when the diagnosis involves checking for diseases of other pelvic organs. According to medical experts, this surgical procedure is generally safe. However, they also do not deny the fact that, if the surgery is major, then it does have some risks of complications.
The rest of the article will help you understand the importance of hysterectomy as a treatment option, what happens right after it is carried out, its recovery period, and a few self-care measures to be taken post the surgery.
Why Is Hysterectomy Required?
Hysterectomy is undertaken for treating conditions which may include:
  • Fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Prolapsed uterus
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Gynecologic cancer
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Persistent vaginal bleeding
Post the Surgery
After having undergone an abdominal hysterectomy, it is normal for the patient to feel tired and experience some degree of pain. The patient may require pain medication, as the effect of the anesthesia wears off.

Difficulty in passing urine or problems with bladder control is also normal after the surgery. Such problems are usually temporary. But, if they persist, then the patient may have to use a catheter.

In abdominal hysterectomy, usually, a tube is placed in the abdomen. The tube is for draining blood from beneath the wound. Normally, the tube is used for 1-2 days.

Abdominal hysterectomy may cause constipation. To deal with the problem, laxatives may be used after consulting the doctor.

The patient will be advised to take short walks, a day after the surgery. Doctors consider this necessary for, it encourages blood circulation, thereby minimizing the risk of complications such as deep vein thrombosis.

Stitches from the surgery may be taken out about 5 days to a week after the surgery.

Abdominal hysterectomy is an inpatient surgery. Patients may be discharged from the hospital within 1-2 days, but in some cases, not before 5 days.
The Recovery
The recovery time for an abdominal hysterectomy varies from patient to patient and thus, it cannot be narrowed down to a specific figure. Some women may take 4-12 weeks before they can fully recover from the surgery, while some may recover within 4-6 weeks. During the recovery period, the patient must diligently follow what her doctor has recommended.

Some complications may surface during the recovery time, as well. Commonly, the following complications may occur:

• Fever
• Infection
• Postoperative bleeding
• Injury to the ureter and bowel injuries

Side effects from exposure to anesthesia and adhesion, may also come up.
Self-Care Measures During Recovery Period
Vaginal bleeding may occur 1-2 weeks after the surgery. Doctors advise patients to use sanitary towels instead of tampons, to reduce the risk of any infection. Although vaginal bleeding is a normal side effect of hysterectomy, if the bleeding is heavy, has a strong odor or is bright red, then it must be reported to a doctor at the earliest.

Surgeries such as abdominal hysterectomy can take a lot out of the body. Given that, taking rest is of utmost importance. Patients must avoid carrying heavy objects (at least for 6 weeks after the surgery). Such activities directly affect the abdominal area of the body.

Paracetamol or ibuprofen are common medicines that can be taken for pain relief. However, they must be discussed with a doctor before being used.

Also advisable is to avoid bending over, climbing stairs, cooking meals, and washing clothes. The patient should also be careful from making any sudden body movements. Driving can be resumed 3-6 weeks after the operation.

Dairy products should be avoided as they tend to worsen or cause constipation. Certain painkillers, if administered during the recovery time may also cause constipation. Alcohol is a big no-no, and especially during the course of medication.

The importance of a healthy and nutritious diet cannot be overlooked when it comes to helping the body recover from invasive medical procedures. Vitamin supplements are also important, but they must be taken, only after discussing with a doctor.

Recovering from an abdominal hysterectomy is not a short-term affair. So, giving time to oneself is essential. Listening to soft music, reading books, watching television or taking up any light hobbies may help the body and mind relax, and speed up the recuperation period.

Although rest is important, complete inactivity may also be harmful. So, keeping the body active is also important; best way to do it is by taking short walks. But, any strenuous physical activity, especially those that may put pressure on the abdominal walls, must be avoided, at least for 6 weeks.

Even after a patient feels that she has recovered fully, she should consider visiting her doctor and seek their recommendation about resuming her normal activity.

Undergoing an abdominal hysterectomy or any other kind of hysterectomy, does not necessarily affect a woman's life post the surgery. Some women get anxious about their sex life, lest the surgery might have negative implications on it. However, many clinical studies have revealed that most women have maintained their sex life as good as it was before the surgery. In fact, some reported to have experienced increased sexual pleasure after fully recovering from hysterectomy. Most importantly, the surgery provides relief from all painful symptoms that the patient was suffering from earlier.
Some women who undergo hysterectomy might experience severe grief and depression over having developed infertility, and not being able to parent a child for the rest of their lives. Therefore, love and support from family and friends becomes essential, especially at this phase of recovery.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.