Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: What to Expect at Home

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Total hysterectomy and total hysterectomy with removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes

Your Recovery

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

You can expect to feel better and stronger each day, but you may need pain medicine for a week or two. 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 is important to avoid lifting while you are recovering so that you can heal.

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?

Activity

 
  • Rest when you feel tired.
  • Be active. Walking is a good choice.
  • Allow the area to heal. Don't move quickly or lift anything heavy until you are feeling better.
  • 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.

Diet

 
  • 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 fibre, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.

Medicines

 
  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructionsabout taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to yourdoctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understandexactly 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.
  • 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.

Incision care

 
  • 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.

Other instructions

 
  • You may have some light vaginal bleeding. Wear sanitary pads if needed. Do not douche or use tampons.
  • Don't have sex until the doctor says it is okay.

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.

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 call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You cannot pass stool 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 bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks one or more pads in an hour, or you have large clots.
  • 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 call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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

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