Vaginal hysterectomy has been a wonderful breakthrough in the field of gynecology. It involves the removal of the uterus and cervix (or parts of the two, depending on the requirement of the surgery) using a laparoscopy, by taking a vaginal approach. It helps to completely do away with surgical cuts, that were earlier required to be made in the abdominal region, during abdominal hysterectomies. Those often led to scarring, increased risk of complications and a long time for surgery and recovery. Conversely, vaginal hysterectomies require minimum invasion, the sutures are self-absorbing and there is practically no scarring seen, thus, reducing the overall recovery period. Normally, an abdominal hysterectomy recovery would require up to twelve weeks, whereas the vaginal hysterectomy recovery period can be as short as three weeks, as it is a laparoscopic hysterectomy procedure.
Normally, hysterectomy recovery period depends on the following factors:
- Reason for surgery (i.e. whether it was a voluntary hysterectomy or hysterectomy done after detection of uterine cancer or some other serious medical condition).
- An occurrence of any complications during vaginal hysterectomy.
- Patient's health at the time of surgery, i.e. whether the patient is weak or anemic, or is suffering from any other ailment. A weak patient will require extra care and rest.
- Soon after a vaginal hysterectomy, essential fluids and food should be administered to the patient. The nutrition should be administered by intravenous means if the patient is feeling nauseous, which is normal and expected.
- Pain relievers should be given as required, mostly intravenous but also intramuscular or by pills, depending on the severity of the pain.
- Patients should be encouraged to try to resume everyday activities sooner, but slowly and steadily. After the first twenty-four hours itself, the patient should be made to stand and walk short distances. This not only helps in recovery but also boosts the patient's self-confidence.
- However, the patient should not be allowed to lift heavy weights or do any kind of strenuous exercise. There should be no stress on the back and pelvic region, in a patient recovering from a vaginal hysterectomy.
- While at home, the patient should try and maintain a healthy diet. Staying hydrated is of paramount importance. The patient should also take multivitamins if instructed to do so by the physician.
- If the hysterectomy has instigated surgical menopause, then hormonal replacement therapy after hysterectomy should be started.
- A woman must refrain from using tampons or indulging in sexual intercourse during vaginal hysterectomy recovery, as these may lead to an interference with the normal healing process or may even lead to a serious complication, like the healing tissues getting infected.
- Sometimes, a woman may become depressed following a vaginal hysterectomy. This may be because she feels she is 'less' of a woman now, without her uterus. Such patients should be counseled for depression, as this may be a prime cause of delayed recovery period, and also a factor which may spur on further complications.
- Most importantly, a woman recovering from a vaginal hysterectomy must be alert for any signs of complications resulting from the procedure. Excessive nausea, fatigue, weakness, pain in abdominal, back or pelvic region and excessive bleeding from the vagina should be immediately reported to the physician.
It is essential that the patient is alerted to the possible side effects of hysterectomy before the actual surgery takes place.
A hysterectomy, be it vaginal or abdominal, is a stressful operation and requires meticulous post-operative care. It would otherwise result in only a partial hysterectomy recovery. Thus, following these simple instructions could help restore you to pristine health in no time!
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.