What to Expect If You Need a Hysterectomy

Many women will find they need a hysterectomy at some point. This is an operation to remove the uterus and possibly the cervix. It will depend on whether you need a partial or total hysterectomy.

What Is the Difference between a Total and Partial Hysterectomy?

A total hysterectomy will remove the uterus and cervix. Yet, if cancer is present, your gynecologist may choose to remove additional tissues either side of the uterus and cervix, as well as the top part of the vagina.

During a partial hysterectomy, only the upper part of the uterus is removed, leaving the cervix fully intact. Other procedures that may also be carried out in addition to a hysterectomy include the removal of the ovaries and sometimes the removal of your tubes.

Why Would I Need a Hysterectomy?

There are various reasons why you might need a hysterectomy. For example, if you have bad endometriosis or chronic pelvic pain, or have experienced abnormal virginal bleeding. Other common reasons include uterine fibroids, or developing cancer of the cervix, ovaries or uterus, or suffering from an uterine prolapse, where the uterus begins to slide into the virginal canal.

Other than cancer, it’s likely your gynaecologist will suggest other nonsurgical approaches before considering a hysterectomy. When you visit a gynecologist for a diagnosis and to learn about possible treatments, they should explain all the options to you in full. Consequently, making sure you understand exactly what’s involved and giving you the opportunity to ask all the questions you need.

What about the Surgery Required for a Hysterectomy?

There are different surgical approaches that may be used depending on the extent of the hysterectomy, your level of general health and the reason for the hysterectomy. The technique used can also determine the extent of any scarring. Some surgeons will use traditional open surgery, while others may use a more minimally invasive technique.

Open surgery is the most common approach and is used in two thirds of all procedures. To do this, your surgeon will need to make an incision in your stomach approximately 5 to 7 inches wide. This incision may be from side to side or up and down, depending on their preferred technique.

The uterus is then removed through the incision. Afterwards it’s generally necessary to spend several days in hospital and of course there will be a visible scar once healing is completed.

Minimally invasive surgery can be completed in a number of different ways. One way is for the surgeon to make an incision in the vagina, removing the uterus through this incision before closing it up. This technique leaves no visible scar.

Laparoscopic surgery is done using a small tube that has a lighted camera. Tools can be inserted through the tube and the uterus is accessed through several small incisions made into the stomach, or alternatively, through one small cut made in the belly button. The surgeon is able to see the inside of the body on a video screen so surgery is performed from the outside.

What about a Robotic Hysterectomy?

Yet another technique is to have what’s called a robotic hysterectomy which again is accomplished in a way that is minimally invasive through your surgeon making small incisions in your stomach. A computer operated device is inserted into these incisions and this connects the surgical instruments to your surgeon’s hands so that when they make a movement, it is replicated precisely by the robotically controlled surgical instruments.

This is an advanced and highly precise technique that has already been successfully used on millions of people. The technique can be especially useful for women who already have scars from previous abdominal surgery. Another advantage is a shorter recovery time once surgery is completed and there should be less post-operative discomfort.

Are There Any Risks in Having a Robotic Hysterectomy?

Of course, all types of surgery carry some level of risks. So, it is worth seeking out a gynecologist who is experienced in carrying out this type of surgery and who already has an excellent success rate.

Your surgeon will be able to talk to you about the possible risks that include infection or bleeding after surgery and the potential for nearby organs to be damaged. Even though this technique is minimally invasive, it’s still necessary to spend at least one night in hospital. Everybody recovers from surgery slightly differently.