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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.

How do you prepare for surgery?

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

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own. 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.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take, including any vitamins and supplements. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • 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.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

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.

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 is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • 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.

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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