Hysterectomy, or the surgical removal of the uterus, is one of the most common procedures for women. Traditionally, the patient stays in the hospital for two to four days following surgery and then recovers at home for six to eight weeks. Because of the lengthy recovery time, many women live with pain and discomfort while postponing the procedure for years to avoid missing several weeks of works or finding someone to care for their children.
But today, surgeons with special training in minimally invasive techniques perform laparoscopic hysterectomy with incisions no larger than a keyhole, allowing patients to go home the same day, usually within six hours following the procedure.
Rather than removing the uterus from a large incision in the abdomen, a laparoscope is inserted through a half-inch opening in the umbilicus (belly button), allowing the surgeon to clearly visualize the organs. Surgical instruments are then inserted through two additional small incisions in the lower abdomen to remove the uterus and cervix. For some patients, a supracervical hysterectomy may be performed in the same way, leaving the cervix in place.
The benefits of laparoscopic hysterectomy include minimal blood loss and scarring, reduced post-operative pain, and significantly shorter recovery time. Most women are good candidates for the procedure, and the less invasive approach gets them back to normal in about a week. Ask your gynecologist if the procedure is right for you.