Hysterectomy Recovery Time
Expected recovery time following a hysterectomy can vary widely depending on the surgery type, your diagnosis, and other factors. Generally speaking, the more invasive the surgery, the longer the recovery can be; however, each woman will heal at her own rate.
The following time frames are only general suggestions for the various hysterectomy choices, so be sure to follow your doctor’s orders for you. At times, your recovery may be longer than average, while at other times it may be shorter.
Following a Total (or complete) Abdominal Hysterectomy (TAH), one of the most invasive surgery types, initial recovery tends to be around six weeks long, though it can be longer depending on your specific situation. This type of surgery also tends to require the longest hospital stay, usually averaging at least two nights. During the recovery, your doctor will likely give you restrictions on lifting, intercourse, bathing, and working so that your body can heal well. You will have significant internal and external incisions, both of which will have various stitches and/or staples. For a Sub-total (or partial) Abdominal Hysterectomy (SAH), recovery may still be around six weeks, and restrictions will be similar to the TAH, even though you will not have a vaginal cuff.
Following a minimally invasive surgery (MIS), your recovery and hospital stay should be shorter. This is true for both total and partial hysterectomies using one of the MIS methods.
Recovery from a total (or complete) hysterectomy using an MIS procedure is usually four to six weeks. This includes Total Vaginal Hysterectomy (TVH), Laparoscopic Assisted Vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH), Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy (TLH), Laparo-Endoscopic Single-Site (LESS), Single Incision Laparoscopic Surgery (SILS), and da Vinci Hysterectomy (dVH). Each of these surgeries generally require an overnight hospital stay, though in some cases the stay may not exceed twenty-three hours. There are usually restrictions on lifting, bathing, intercourse, and working, even though you will have little or no external incisions. In some cases, surgeons will err on the side of caution and extend some restrictions when the vaginal cuff has been created using the da Vinci system. Currently, there is a slightly higher risk of vaginal cuff tearing using that surgery method.
Following a supracervical (or partial) hysterectomy using an MIS method, you may be given a two to four week recovery period, and either have an outpatient or single night hospital stay. This is true for both the Laparoscopic Supracervical Hysterectomy (LSH) and da Vinci robot (dVH). With these surgeries, there is no vaginal cuff and only small incisions, and techniques used during surgery can shorten the recovery period. However, you will still need to adhere to any restrictions given for intercourse, bathing, lifting, and working during the initial recovery. Some doctors and advertisements do suggest a possible two or three day recovery period following these surgeries, but we would recommend you thoroughly discuss that possibility before you count on it. Regardless of the surgery type, removing the uterus, even part of it, is still a major surgery and many HysterSisters have reported they did not quite feel like dancing that soon after surgery!
The most invasive surgery type is a radical hysterectomy done in the cases of cancer. With this type of surgery, lymph nodes and part of the vagina may also be removed. As such, recovery could be closer to eight weeks or longer, and it will be especially important to follow your doctor’s instructions so that your body the best chance to heal as well as possible.
Only your surgeon knows your specific situation and exactly how your surgery was performed, so only s/he will be able to give you the most accurate recovery time frame. Techniques surgeons use during surgery may decrease recovery time in some instances, while experience may also cause a surgeon to extend the recovery time period in an attempt to prevent complications. Whatever your surgery type, be sure to follow your surgeon’s recommendations for you. You only have one chance to heal right the first time, so take full advantage of it!
This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support. Reprinted with permission: Hysterectomy Recovery Time