What is a simple hysterectomy?

A simple hysterectomy is a procedure where the uterus and cervix are removed while other surrounding structures, such as vagina, lymph nodes, ovaries and fallopian tubes, are left in place. A simple hysterectomy can be performed via an abdominal hysterectomy, a vaginal hysterectomy or a laparoscopic hysterectomy.

Who is a candidate for a simple hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is typically only a treatment for early stage cervical cancer. If you have stage 1A1 cervical cancer, a hysterectomy may be an option.

What are the advantages of a simple hysterectomy?

The advantages of a simple hysterectomy include:

  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less pain
  • Less scarring
  • Quicker return to normal activities
  • Fewer complications including reduced blood loss and fewer infections

What are risks of a simple hysterectomy?

Although the risks of hysterectomy are minimal, complications can occur. Complications associated with a simple hysterectomy include:

  • Adverse reaction to anesthetic
  • Severe bleeding at incision site
  • Infection at incision site

In rare cases, injuries to the surrounding tissues or organs such as the bladder, intestines and blood vessels can occur.

What to expect during a simple hysterectomy?

What to expect during a simple hysterectomy differs based the what type of hysterectomy you are having. You will either get a general or local anesthesia, so you do not feel the procedure. 

The types of hysterectomy include:

  • Abdominal hysterectomy - your uterus is removed through a large incision in the abdomen.
  • Vaginal hysterectomy - your uterus is removed through a small incision in the vagina. Because your doctor does not need to make any external cuts, there will not be any visible scars.
  • Laparoscopic hysterectomy - during a laparoscopic hysterectomy, your doctor will use an instrument called a laparoscope, a surgical instrument that has a high-intensity light and high-resolution camera on it. Your surgeon will insert the laparoscope into the abdomen through a small incision. When in position, your surgeon will cut the uterus into smaller pieces that can be removed through the small incisions. 

Recovery from a simple hysterectomy

Most patients stay in the hospital for one to two days after a simple hysterectomy. Recovery process and time after discharge will be dependent on the type of hysterectomy you have had. If you had an abdominal hysterectomy, the recovery process and time will be longer and there is a higher risk of complications. 

Before being discharged from the hospital, your care team will provide detailed care instructions such as:

  • Side effects to expect after the procedure including cramps, pain or vaginal discharge that has a foul odor or brownish in color.
  • Recovery time for the type of procedure you had. If you had an abdominal hysterectomy, recovery could be as long as six weeks, while if you had a vaginal hysterectomy, you can return to normal activities as soon as two to four weeks.
  • Do not drive until your doctor has given you the clearance.
  • Gradually begin walking around as it feels comfortable.
  • Do not lift anything over 10 pounds for a few weeks after surgery.
  • Do not attempt sexual intercourse for six weeks following surgery.

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