Your hysterectomy recovery time depends largely on the type of hysterectomy performed.
This Physical Therapy information teaches you how much hysterectomy recovery time you need after vaginal, laparoscopic or abdominal hysterectomy and how to reduce your recovery time.
Read on now to learn:
1. Vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomy recovery time
2. Abdominal hysterectomy recovery time
3. Complications and side effects that can increase recovery time
4. How to reduce your hysterectomy recovery time
Hysterectomy Recovery Exercises e-Book
Reduce the risk of common hysterectomy side effects and promote the speed of your recovery.
- Early hysterectomy recovery (abdominal or vaginal hysterectomy)
- Preparing for a hysterectomy
- Reducing the risk of common side effects e.g. back pain, constipation and gas
- Preparing your body for return to work and regular activity.
1. Vaginal and Laparoscopic Hysterectomy Recovery Time
Recovery time for vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomy is usually shorter than for abdominal hysterectomy.
Current scientific research1 comparing vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomy tells us that:
- Surgery time is shorter for vaginal versus laparoscopic hysterectomy
- Vaginal hysterectomy results in the fastest return to regular activity
- The quickest discharge from hospital occurs after vaginal hysterectomy.
There is no reported difference in the number of short or long-term complications when comparing vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomy.
When to Expect Discharge From Hospital
Women are usually discharged from hospital the same day or next day after vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy.
The time of discharge from hospital usually depends on the time of day that your surgery is performed and any post-operative complications that may occur.
First 6 Weeks After Vaginal or Laparoscopic Hysterectomy
Initial healing and return to regular activity usually takes around 4-6 weeks after vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy.
After discharge women are usually encouraged to move regularly. Moving should feel fairly comfortable and all heavy lifting should be avoided. Intermittent walking throughout the day is usually encouraged. Try to increase the time you spend walking week by week basis (see guidelines below).
During recovery at home, it’s important to balance rest and exercise to promote healing and minimise possible side effects after hysterectomy (e.g. physical deterioration or lower back pain).
Your surgeon will usually tell you when you can return to your regular activities and general exercise after your post-operative review. Approval to return to regular general activities from 6 weeks after surgery may vary from one surgeon to another and depends on overall healing.
From 6 Weeks to 3 Months After Vaginal or Laparoscopic Hysterectomy
Complete internal healing takes up to 3 months after surgery. During this time internal healing continues however this is not visible from the outside.
Promote your ongoing recovery and protect your pelvic floor and healing tissues by continuing to avoid heavy lifting, high impact and intense core abdominal exercises during this recovery time. Long-term there may be an increased risk of pelvic floor problems (i.e. prolapse or bladder incontinence) so pelvic floor exercises and pelvic floor friendly exercise are important.
2. Abdominal Hysterectomy Recovery Time
Research1 tells us that abdominal hysterectomy compared with the other forms of hysterectomy involves:
- Longest time spent in surgery under anaesthetic
- Longest hysterectomy recovery time (i.e. time to return to regular activities).
When to Expect Discharge From Hospital
Women are usually discharged from hospital around 2-3 days after abdominal hysterectomy.
Most women are encouraged to move out of bed on the day after surgery.
First 6 Weeks After Abdominal Hysterectomy
Healing and return to regular activity takes around 6-8 weeks after abdominal hysterectomy (longer that after vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy).
Following discharge moving regularly out of bed and intermittent walking throughout the day are encouraged in order to promote recovery and reduce the risk of post-operative complications and hysterectomy side effects (e.g. blood clots in the deep leg veins or DVT, chest infection or constipation).
From 6 Weeks to 3 Months After Abdominal Hysterectomy
Complete healing time after abdominal hysterectomy takes approximately 3 months. While the abdominal wound appears healed from the outside, internal wound healing continues during this time.
Once you’ve been given approval by your doctor to return to regular exercise and activity it’s advisable to continue to avoid heavy lifting, high impact exercises and intense core abdominal exercises during the first 3 months of recovery. Long-term there may also be an increased risk of pelvic floor problems (i.e. prolapse or bladder incontinence) so pelvic floor rehabilitation and appropriate pelvic floor friendly exercise are important.
3. How to Reduce your Hysterectomy Recovery Time
Here are some simple ways to promote hysterectomy recovery after surgery:
- Prepare for your hysterectomy with fitness and strength exercises
- Take sufficient time to rest and recover
- Avoid complete bed rest
- Move regularly
- Perform simple Physical Therapy exercises (see below)
- Progress walking on a weekly basis
- Eat well with a post-operative diet that includes sufficient protein for healing
- Manage your bowels well to avoid straining and constipation
- Use appropriate bladder emptying techniques that avoid straining
- Contact your doctor promptly with symptoms that concern you.
4. Complications and Side Effects that Increase Hysterectomy Recovery Time
Complications after surgery and side effects can sometimes increase overall hysterectomy recovery time.
Some of the hysterectomy complications and side effects include:
- Blood clot in deep leg veins (DVT) with an increased risk after abdominal hysterectomy
- Chest infection
- Wound or abdominal wall infection
- Bladder injury during surgery
- Urinary tract infection
- Bladder emptying problems
- Lower back pain
A number of these problems can be avoided or the risk reduced with simple post-operative hysterectomy recovery exercises.
1Aarts JWM, Nieboer TE, Johnson N, Tavender E, Garry R, Mol BWJ, Kluivers KB. Surgical approach to hysterectomy for benign gynaecological disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD003677. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003677.pub5.