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The surgical procedure to remove the uterus, which may also include the removal of the cervix, ovaries, and/or the Fallopian tubes. Performed by a gynecologist, it is by far the most common gynecological surgical procedure. After the operation, a patient will no longer be able to have children. If you have not yet gone through the menopause, you will no longer have periods.
A hysterectomy is used to treat conditions that affect the female reproductive system, such as heavy periods (menorrhagia), chronic (long-term) pelvic pain, non-cancerous tumors (fibroids) and cancer of the ovaries, womb, cervix or fallopian tubes.
It is a major operation with a long recovery time. It is usually only considered after alternative, less invasive treatments have been tried.
There are several circumstances when you may be recommended to have a hysterectomy. The most common reasons include heavy periods, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, prolapse of the uterus, cancer.
The procedure begins with sedating the patient using a general anesthetic. After this, it can either be performed in the traditional way, that is open surgery or by a minimally invasive technique. However, which method is used depends upon the condition of the patient.
With a traditional Open Hysterectomy, a 5 to 7-inch incision is made across the abdomen. It can either be up and down or side to side. The Uterus is removed from the incised area and stitches are put in place and bandages are applied over it.
Whereas with the Minimally Invasive Hysterectomy, it is performed by various methods, but the basics are the same; for the Vaginal Hysterectomy, an incision is made in the vagina and the uterus is removed through it. Stitches are applied within so no visible scarring is seen. For the Laparoscopic Hysterectomy, a laparoscope with small surgical tools is inserted through several small incisions in the abdomen and the uterus is removed accordingly with minimal scarring.
The surgeon may also opt to remove all parts or only a part of your uterus, depending on the reason for a hysterectomy and may also follow the removal of your cervix and/or ovaries
Removal of Cervix
Subtotal or Supracervical hysterectomy - only the upper part of the uterus is removed, keeping the cervix in place.
Removal of Ovaries
Open hysterectomy is a 1-2 hour procedure and after the operation, a 2-3 day stay at the hospital is advised. Your health conditions are regularly monitored during this period. If everything goes fine, you are allowed to leave. With Minimally invasive techniques, it can be an outpatient procedure and you are discharged on the same day. Still, you have to stay in Heidelberg for at least 14 days post-op. During this time, you will go back to the hospital for a few follow-up check-ups. Pain killers are prescribed to help with the discomfort. Your stitches are removed after 7-10 days, at which point you can continue your recovery before traveling home 2 weeks after the procedure.
An average of 4-6 weeks is required to recover from an open hysterectomy. While minimally invasive techniques for hysterectomy take only 3-4 weeks, hence why these methods are more commonplace these days, given the lack of scarring too. You should allow at least 6 weeks before returning to work and longer if your job requires physical labor.
You will need to rest as much as possible and a follow-up appointment should be arranged 6-12 weeks after your surgery to check your recovery progress. This can be arranged with any specialist in your home country.
Also, consider the following points when recovering:
Hysterectomy has a success rate of 80% and can cure several medical conditions as mentioned above. As for some women, it is the answer to several years of suffering from uterine problems. For others, it is the last resort to treat a life-threatening condition such as cancer.
Since this is major surgery, possible risks, and side effects could include chronic pain, vaginal prolapse, vaginal fistula, urinary incontinence, wound infections, blood clots, or a hemorrhage. There are also long term risks associated with having a hysterectomy which should also be considered, such as an increase in the risk of heart attack and stroke, urinary problems, sexual function problems, depression, hormone deficiency, or a decrease in blood supply to the ovaries.
There are a few alternatives to a hysterectomy:
Whilst the information presented here has been accurately sourced and verified by a medical professional for its accuracy, it is still advised to consult with your doctor before pursuing a medical treatment at one of the listed medical providers. This content was last updated on 28/11/2020.