Hysterectomy Preoperative Procedures

No matter which type of hysterectomy procedure is performed, hysterectomy requires hospitalization for one to five days.

Preparation for a hysterectomy typically involves several steps, including the following:

  • Physical examination to determine overall health
  • Pelvic exam
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Preoperative meeting with the surgeon to discuss the procedure and receive pre-surgery instructions
  • Preoperative meeting with the anesthesiologist to discuss the type of anesthesia that will be used (general or local)

In many cases, patients are advised to quit smoking 2 to 6 weeks before surgery. Smoking may cause breathing problems during surgery and has been shown to delay healing.

If a pain reliever is needed in the week prior to surgery, acetaminophen is recommended over aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen, to reduce the risk for heavy bleeding during surgery.

In general, no food or drink is to be taken after midnight on the day of the procedure. In some cases, a laxative or enema is indicated to empty the bowels before surgery.

Postoperative Care after Hysterectomy

Immediately after surgery, the patient remains in the recovery room for a few hours. She is monitored for discomfort, and is given medications to prevent pain and infection.

Hysterectomy requires at least one overnight stay in the hospital, and may require hospitalization for as many as 5 days. After the first night, patients are up and walking. Sanitary pads are used to manage bleeding and discharge, which can last for several days.

Full recovery can take from 4 to 8 weeks for open abdominal hysterectomy, and from 1 to 2 weeks for vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomies. During this time, patients should get plenty of rest. She should avoid heavy lifting and tub baths for a full 6 weeks.

Depending on the type of procedure used and on the patient's rate of recovery, light chores, some driving, and even returning to work during this period of time may be possible. In general, patients can resume sexual relations after six weeks.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 11 Jun 2001

Last Modified: 22 Dec 2011