Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: What to Expect at Home
A laparoscopic hysterectomy is surgery to take out the uterus. Your doctor put a lighted tube and surgical tools through small cuts in your belly to remove the uterus.
You can expect to feel better and stronger each day. But you might need pain medicine for a week or two. It's normal to also have some shoulder or back pain. This is caused by the gas your doctor put in your belly to help see your organs better. You may get tired easily or have less energy than usual. The tiredness may last for several weeks after surgery. You will probably notice that your belly is swollen and puffy. This is common. The swelling will take several weeks to go down. You may take about 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover.
It's important to avoid lifting while you are recovering so that you can heal. It may take about 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover. The recovery time may be shorter for some people.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
- Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
- Avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, bags of cat litter or dog food, a vacuum cleaner, or a child.
- Allow the area to heal. Hold a pillow over your incisions when you cough or take deep breaths. This will support your belly and may help to decrease your pain.
- Avoid strenuous activities, such as biking, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay.
- Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
- You may shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery, if your doctor okays it. Pat the incision dry. Do not take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
- Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.
- You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
- If your bowel movements are not regular right after surgery, try to avoid constipation and straining. Drink plenty of water. Your doctor may suggest increasing your fibre intake, or taking a mild laxative.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
- If you take aspirin or some other blood thinners, be sure to talk to your doctor. They will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
- Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- Do not take more than two pain medicines at the same time unless your doctor told you to. Many pain medicines contain Tylenol, which is also called acetaminophen. If you take too much acetaminophen, you can become very sick.
- If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
- You may have stitches over the cuts (incisions) the doctor made in your belly.
- If you have strips of tape on the cut (incision) the doctor made, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
- Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. They can slow healing.
- You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it oozes fluid or rubs against clothing.
- Change the bandage every day.
- You may have some light vaginal bleeding. Wear sanitary pads if needed. Do not douche or use tampons.
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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have chest pain, have shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
- You cannot pass stools or gas.
- You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad.
- You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
- You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
- Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage over your incision.
- You have signs of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the incision.
- Pus draining from the incision.
- A fever.
- You have severe vaginal bleeding. This means that you are soaking through your usual pads every hour for 2 or more hours.
- You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
- Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
- Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter Q131 in the search box to learn more about "Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: What to Expect at Home".
Adaptation Date: 8/3/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services