Pelvic Laparoscopy: What to Expect at Home

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Female pelvic organs

Your Recovery

After surgery, it is normal to have a sore belly, cramping, or pain around the cuts the doctor made (incisions) for up to 4 days. You can expect to feel better and stronger each day, although you may get tired quickly and need pain medicine for a few days. Some people are able to return to work the day after surgery, while others need to recover for a few days to a few weeks before going back to work.

Sometimes pressure from the gas used during surgery causes other side effects. You may have pain in your neck or shoulders. Or you may feel pressure on your bladder and need to urinate more often than usual. These side effects should go away in less than 4 days.

Do not lift anything heavy while you are recovering so that your incisions 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. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start out 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.
  • For 1 week, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as biking, jogging, weight lifting, and aerobic exercise, for 1 week.
  • You may shower. Pat the incisions dry when you are done. Do not take a bath for the first week after surgery or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • You may have some light vaginal bleeding. Wear sanitary pads if needed. Do not douche or use tampons.
  • You may drive when you are no longer taking prescription pain medicine and can quickly move your foot from the gas pedal to the brake. You must also be able to sit comfortably for a long period of time, even if you do not plan to go far. You might get caught in traffic.
  • You may need to take a few days to a few weeks off work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • Do not have sex until your doctor tells you it is okay.

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.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fibre supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking 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.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, take an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines contain acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor tells you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain 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

 
  • If you have strips of tape on the incisions, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water and pat it dry.
  • Keep the area clean and dry. You may cover it with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.

Other instructions

 
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and avoid anything that puts pressure on your belly, such as a girdle, for a few weeks.
  • You may want to use a heating pad on your belly to help with pain.

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, are short of breath, or cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks one or more pads in an hour, or you have large clots.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
  • You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • 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 loose stitches, or your incisions come open.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through the bandages over your incisions.
  • 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.
  • You cannot pass stools or gas.

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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