OB/GYN Explains What To Expect After A Hysterectomy

Just behind cesarean sections, hysterectomies are among the top most common surgeries performed for women across the country, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With approximately 600,000 hysterectomies taking place every year in the U.S., research gathered between 1994 to 1999 reveals that over 3 million hysterectomies were performed over the five-year period.

Health Digest spoke with Monte Swarup, MD, FACOG, board-certified in OB/GYN in Chandler, Arizona, and founder of HPD Rx. He explained what a hysterectomy procedure entails and what patients can expect after the fact during recovery. "A hysterectomy procedure is a common surgery for removing a woman's uterus," Dr. Swarup explains. "The removal of the uterus means a woman can no longer become pregnant."

However, he goes on to state that not all hysterectomies look the same. "There are different types of hysterectomy procedures, which include a total hysterectomy, where the cervix and uterus are both removed; a supracervical hysterectomy, where the cervix is left in place but the upper part of the uterus is removed; and a radical hysterectomy, where the cervix and uterus are removed with structures around the uterus. If cancer is diagnosed or suspected, a radical hysterectomy may be recommended," Dr. Swarup explains.

Recovery time and symptoms to watch for

Dr. Swarup told Health Digest how long patients can expect to be in recovery following a hysterectomy. "A hysterectomy can take between 6-8 weeks with an abdominal hysterectomy," he states. "If the procedure is done with a vaginal or laparoscopy hysterectomy the recovery time may be shorter."

Dr. Swarup explains that time spent in the hospital after the procedure is usually not extensive. "The time in the hospital may include a few days following your surgery," he says. "The amount of time will depend on the type of hysterectomy you have done, your age, and general health." Dr. Swarup then broke down when patients can expect to return to their normal day-to-day lives. "The typical total recovery time at home is 2 weeks with a return to usual activities within 4-8 weeks. You will be encouraged to move around as soon as possible after your surgery to help prevent blood clots in your legs."

Although considered to be a safe procedure, Dr. Swarup concluded the interview by noting symptoms that may require an emergency call to the patient's healthcare team. "It is important to contact your medical team if any of the following occur after your hysterectomy — infection or fever, heavy bleeding, urinary tract injury, blood clots in your legs, bowel blockage, heart problems or breathing issues," he said.