Minimally Invasive Hysterectomy

Womans abdominal area

A minimally invasive hysterectomy can be done either vaginally or via the laparoscopic surgery technique. While vaginal hysterectomy includes laparoscopic tools, the uterus is removed through the vagina, not through the abdomen. Laparoscopic hysterectomy procedure includes removing the uterus through small holes in the abdomen.

Which Hysterectomy Is Best For Me?

Each woman needs to discuss her hysterectomy requirements with her doctor. While laparoscopic hysterectomies require much less recovery time, they do not work in every case.

For example, if you have suffered from endometriosis or have scar tissue around your uterus, your surgeon will need open access to your abdomen to safely remove the uterus and attend to any scarring. Also, if you cannot tolerate being under anesthesia for an extended period of time for any reason, an abdominal hysterectomy is safer.

However, if your current health conditions don't include large fibroids, any cancerous tissue, or endometriotic scarring, you may be an ideal candidate for a minimally invasive hysterectomy. This can be done without laparoscopic assistance through the vagina. If your surgeon has received the additional training needed for laparoscopic surgical care, you may also be a good candidate for laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy or LAVH.

During LAVH, your doctor can view your pelvic organs and remove scar tissue, cysts, and treat areas of infection. Be aware that if your surgeon discovers any factor that will make LAVH unsafe, you will most likely need an abdominal hysterectomy.

Other forms of minimally invasive hysterectomy involve the removal of the uterus through the laparoscopic incisions. These surgeries can be done either supracervical or complete. In a supracervical hysterectomy, only the uterus is removed. The cervix is left intact. In a complete laparoscopic hysterectomy, the uterus and cervix are removed. Your ovaries may or may not be removed depending on their condition.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is major surgery. If your ovaries are removed it can also be a serious jolt to the endocrine system. That being said, if you suffer from endometriosis or a debilitating monthly cycle, undergoing hysterectomy can greatly increase your quality of life.

Abdominal hysterectomy is the most common version of the surgery. Of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed in the United States annually, more than 80% of them are abdominal surgeries. While many of these abdominal hysterectomy decisions may be based on patient need and safe outcomes, the push for laparoscopic and other minimally invasive surgeries is growing due to the desire for decreased recovery times.

The primary benefit of minimally invasive hysterectomy over abdominal hysterectomy is a shorter recovery time. Because abdominal hysterectomy surgeries involve cutting through several layers of muscle and connective tissue, recovery can be painful and time-consuming.

If a minimally invasive hysterectomy is not an option due to a lack of trained surgeons or laparoscopic tools in your area, talk to your physician about having your surgery elsewhere. Good candidates for minimally invasive hysterectomy can take four weeks off their recovery time by asking a few questions. You want a surgeon with experience of both the surgery and the tools.

After Your Hysterectomy

After a minimally invasive hysterectomy, you may get to go home the same day. You can expect a two-week limitation on lifting but no restrictions on walking. The abdominal incisions went deep, but did not cut a long stretch of tissue apart, so the healing time will be quicker and with less scarring.

An abdominal hysterectomy will require a short hospital stay. You can expect limitations on your activity and lifting ability for approximately six weeks. Because the incision went long and deep, the muscles and connective tissues will need time to heal.

Lifting limitations and activity restrictions can make the basic activities of life such as sex, work; housework, childcare, and animal care a challenge. Regardless of the type of hysterectomy, you undergo, take the time to heal properly and recover completely. While minimally invasive hysterectomy recovery can take as little as two weeks, be aware that restrictions on sexual activity for all forms of hysterectomy are six weeks.