How to Reduce Your Hysterectomy Recovery Time

Hysterectomy recovery time (2)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. Tips for how to reduce your hysterectomy recovery time

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

Abdominal hysterectomy surgery

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: 

Resting after hysterectomy

  1. Prepare for your hysterectomy with fitness and strength exercises
  2. Take sufficient time to rest and recover
  3. Avoid complete bed rest
  4. Move regularly
  5. Perform simple Physical Therapy exercises (see below)
  6. Progress walking on a weekly basis
  7. Eat well with a post-operative diet that includes sufficient protein for healing
  8. Manage your bowels well to avoid straining and constipation
  9. Use appropriate bladder emptying techniques that avoid straining
  10. Contact your doctor promptly with symptoms that concern you.

4. Complications & 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.

Further Reading

» 5 Physiotherapy Exercises for Relieving Lower Back Pain After Hysterectomy

» How to Avoid Side Effects of Hysterectomy – What Every Woman Should Know

» Walking After a Hysterectomy With Weekly Hysterectomy Walking Guidelines

» Hysterectomy Weight Loss – Expert Health Professional Exercise Guidelines

Hysterectomy Recovery Exercises for Avoiding Post-Operative Complications (eBook)

Hysterectomy Recovery Exercises Book 1with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
Michelle Kenway

Learn Physical Therapy exercises and techniques help you move well and exercise safely to avoid major complications and common side effects of hysterectomy.

Includes exercises for constipation, gas pain, lower back pain, moving in and out of bed and safe return to activity after hysterectomy. READ MORE NOW

 

 

References

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.

We Welcome Your Comments

Comments

  1. I’m almost 9 weeks post vaginal hysterectomy with prolapse repair + laparotomy abdominal salpingo-oophrectomy. I was doing well but feel my pelvic floor is once again lax after a short trip to the supermarket without a trolley. I carried 2L of milk and two 750ml glass bottles of juice and I’m sure it’s weakened everything. The heavy feeling is back. I’m so devastated as I had been doing everything right up until then and recovering so well that I forgot. Can you please define heavy lifting for me so I can set my limits going forward?

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Alice

      It’s early days and in this situation go back to pelvic floor exercises and basic management with resting when you can and making sure your bowels are really well managed.

      How much lifting is too much? Every woman is different, it depends on what your pelvic floor can cope with. Heavy lifting is lifting that causes effort/strain with the lift and don’t forget repeated lifting can also load the pelvic floor.

      Are you seeing a Pelvic Floor Physio? This would be a great step to help you now how much your pelvic floor is capable of withstanding as an assessment would give you a much better idea.

      All the best