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Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: Before Your Surgery

Female pelvic organs

What is a laparoscopic hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is surgery to take out the uterus. In some cases, the ovaries and fallopian tubes also are taken out at the same time.

The doctor makes one or more small cuts in the belly. These cuts are called incisions. They let the doctor insert tools to do the surgery. One of these tools is a tube with a light on it. It's called a laparoscope, or scope. The scope and the other tools allow the doctor to free the uterus. The doctor then removes the uterus through the small cuts.

In a total hysterectomy, the doctor takes out the uterus and the cervix. In a supracervical hysterectomy, only the uterus is taken out.

Most women go home in 1 to 2 days. You may need about 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover.

After the surgery, you will not have periods. You will not be able to get pregnant. If there is a chance that you will want to have a baby, talk to your doctor about other treatment options.

Your doctor may advise you to take hormone pills if your ovaries are removed. Your doctor will talk to you about the risks and benefits of hormones. He or she will also tell you how long to take them.

This surgery probably won't lower your interest in sex. In fact, some women enjoy sex more. This may be because they no longer have to worry about birth control or heavy bleeding.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Preparing for surgery

  • Bring a list of questions to ask your doctors. It is important that you understand exactly what surgery is planned, the risks, benefits, and other options before your surgery.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take, including any vitamins and supplements. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • Before your surgery, you will speak with an anesthesia provider to discuss your anesthetic options, including the risks, benefits, and alternatives to each. This may be on the phone or in person.

Taking care of yourself before surgery

  • Build healthy habits into your life. Changes are best made several weeks before surgery, since your body may react to sudden changes in your habits. Talk to your doctor about any changes you need to make.
    • Stay as active as you can.
    • Eat a healthy diet.
    • Cut back or quit alcohol and tobacco. If you drink a lot of alcohol, talk to your healthcare provider about helping you cut down the amount you drink.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. If you do not have one, you may want to prepare one so your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors recommend that everyone prepare these papers before surgery, regardless of the type of surgery or condition.

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
  • Leave your valuables at home.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • Before surgery you will be asked to repeat your full name, what surgery you are having, and what part of your body is being operated on. The area for surgery may be marked.
  • A small tube (IV) will be placed in a vein, to give you fluids and medicine to help you relax. Because of the combination of medicines given to keep you comfortable, you may not remember much about the operating room.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will take about 2 to 4 hours.
  • As you wake up in the recovery room, the nurse will check to be sure you are stable and comfortable. It is important for you to tell your doctor and nurse how you feel and ask questions about any concerns you may have.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home.
  • For your safety, you should not drive until you are no longer taking pain medicines and you can move and react easily.
  • Arrange for extra help at home after surgery, especially if you live alone or provide care for another person.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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