Read more about Hysterectomy
A Hysterectomy is a treatment option for a number of conditions that affect the reproductive system, including:
irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding – but only if other treatments haven’t worked
Endometriosis – a condition in which cells that usually line the womb grow outside the womb in other parts of the body
Prolapse – where the womb drops into the vagina
Cancer of the uterus, ovary or cervix (neck of the womb)
Fibroids (non-cancerous growths of the womb) that are very enlarged
What happens during an abdominal hysterectomy?
The operation usually takes about an hour. This will depend on the complexity of the surgery, as a cancer operation may take much longer.
Your surgeon will make a cut (about 10cm long) across your lower abdomen, just below your bikini line. If you have large fibroids in your womb, he or she may need to make a cut from your belly button down to your bikini line instead. He or she will discuss this with you before the operation. In some cancer operations, the gynaecological oncologist (a specialist gynaecologist who concentrates on cancer surgery) may make an up and down cut (this is called a midline incision).
Your surgeon will take your womb out through the cut in your abdomen. Stitches (which may be dissolvable), metal clips or glue will be used to close the cut on your abdomen and the area will be covered with a dressing.
You may need to rest until the effects of the anaesthetic have passed. You may need pain relief to help with any discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off. It’s usual to feel some initial discomfort when you pass urine, but you should let your nurse or surgeon know if you are finding it difficult to pass urine or are having problems with bladder control. This should be temporary, but if it continues you may need to use a catheter for about two to three weeks.
How do I prepare for the procedure?
The gynaeocologist at the London Medical and Aesthetic clinic will explain how to prepare for your procedure. For example if you smoke, you will be asked to stop, as smoking increases your risk of getting a chest and wound infection, which can slow your recovery.
The procedure is usually done under a general anaesthetic, so you will be asked to follow fasting instructions. This means not eating or drinking, typically for about six hours beforehand. However, it’s important to follow your gynaeocolcogists advice and fully discuss the procedure before hand.
What are the alternatives to an abdominal Hysterectomy?
A Hysterectomy will usually only be recommended if other treatments, such as medicines or other surgery, are unsuitable or haven’t worked. For example, if you have fibroids or problem periods you may be able to have treatments such as uterine artery embolisation, myomectomy, endometrial ablation or resection. Speak to your gynaecologist for more information. Alternative hysterectomy techniques to an abdominal hysterectomy are:
Vaginal hysterectomy , where the procedure is done through your vagina
Keyhole hysterectomy, where the procedure is done through small cuts in your abdomen and often in combination with vaginal hysterectomy
Ask the gynaecologist at the London Medical and Aesthetic clinic for advice about which surgery will be most suitable for you.
Possible side effects of a Hysterectomy
As with every procedure, there are some risks associated with an abdominal hysterectomy. We have not included the chance of these happening as they are specific to you and differ for every person. Ask your surgeon to explain how these risks apply to you.
Side-effects are the unwanted but mostly temporary effects you may get after having the procedure. Side-effects of an abdominal hysterectomy include:
- pain, swelling and bruising in your abdomen
- blood-stained vaginal discharge
- numbness, tingling or a burning sensation around your scar
- feeling emotional
If your ovaries have been removed during the procedure, you will have menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness.
You will also have a permanently visible scar – this will be red and slightly raised to start with, but should soften and fade over the following months.