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Women's Health

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Hysterectomy - Topic Overview

How is the surgery done?

There are many different ways to do hysterectomy surgery. The type of surgery you have depends on three main things: the reason for the surgery, the size of the uterus and its position in the belly, and your overall health. The most common types are:

  • Abdominal hysterectomy. In this type, the doctor makes a cut in the belly, either across the bikini line or straight up and down. The doctor takes out the uterus and the cervix. This type is most often done when cancer might be present or when severe endometriosis, a lot of scar tissue (adhesions), or a very large uterus makes the uterus hard to remove.
  • Vaginal hysterectomy. With this type, the doctor takes out the uterus through the vagina. He or she makes a small cut in the vagina instead of the belly. Your doctor will not use this method when there is a chance that cancer may be in the uterus, cervix, or ovaries. Doctors use this type of surgery only in cases where the uterus is small and easy to remove.
  • Laparoscopic hysterectomy. In this type of surgery, the doctor puts a lighted tube (laparoscope) through small cuts in your belly. The doctor can see your organs with the scope and insert surgical tools to cut the tissue that holds your uterus in place.

How long will it take to recover from surgery?

Feeling better after surgery takes time. Most women are in the hospital 1 or 2 days after the surgery. Some women stay in the hospital up to 4 days.

When you get home, make sure you move around, but also be sure you don't do too much. You can walk around the house and up and down stairs, but take it slow. During the first 2 weeks, it's important to get plenty of rest. Even after you start to feel stronger, you should not lift heavy things (anything over 20 pounds). Also, you should not have sex until your doctor says it's okay. It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to get back to a normal routine.

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