What Is a Laparoscopic Hysterectomy?
A laparoscopic hysterectomy is less invasive than an abdominal hysterectomy surgery and is performed to remove a woman’s uterus. This surgery is carried out using a lighted scope equipped with a camera – a laparoscope – and is done through very small incisions. The laparoscope is usually inserted through the belly button, and a few other incisions are made in the lower abdomen to remove the uterus. This is called a laparoscopic hysterectomy.
Why Would a Laparoscopic Hysterectomy Be Performed?
There are several female health issues that cause OB/GYNs to recommend hysterectomy surgery. The #1 reason for hysterectomies in the United States is uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors and in most cases, fibroids can be treated non-surgically.
Who Is a Candidate For a Laparoscopic Hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy for symptomatic fibroids is most often done by open abdominal approach, then laparoscopic abdominal approach, and rarely vaginally. A size and a number of fibroids, patient’s anatomy and preferences, as well as the surgeon’s qualification, are the main indicators towards choosing a laparoscopic technique to perform a hysterectomy.
What to Expect From Laparoscopic Hysterectomy?
Laparoscopic hysterectomy surgery can be performed using local anesthesia or general anesthesia. A small tube fitted with a tiny video camera is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen that allows the surgeon to view the uterus and internal organs. Next, surgical instruments are inserted through other small incisions to remove the entire uterus, a part of the cervix, or the fallopian tubes, and ovaries depending on the type of the hysterectomy. The incisions are closed with a few stitches when the surgery is completed.
If a gynecological surgeon manipulates robotic arms to perform a laparoscopic hysterectomy, this procedure is called robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy or robotic hysterectomy.
Recovery From Laparoscopic Hysterectomy
Recovery from laparoscopic hysterectomy surgery can be different depending on the use of local or general anesthesia and the patient’s individual circumstances. If general anesthesia is used, some women feel nauseous for a few hours after the procedure. A hospital stay of 1-2 days may be required. Recovery typically takes 4 to 6 weeks vs. 6 to 8 weeks for an abdominal hysterectomy.
You can expect:
- Some pain and discomfort in your shoulders due to the gas used to “pump up” your abdominal area during surgery;
- Getting up and walking as soon as possible to help prevent blood clots from forming;
- A prescription for pain medication;
- Incision care instructions and other aftercare directives from your surgeon;
- Light bleeding for several days similar to a light period;
- No heavy lifting until you are cleared to do so by your doctor;
- Refraining from intercourse for six weeks.
Risks and Side Effects of Laparoscopic Hysterectomy:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia;
- Damage to the bladder or other nearby organs;
- Blood clots risks;
- Early menopause (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, etc.);
- Bone loss leading to osteoporosis;
- Increased cardiovascular risk (e.g. high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke);
- You may require hormone therapy, depending on the type of hysterectomy;
- Loss of the ability to become pregnant.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) Vs. Laparoscopic Hysterectomy
If you have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids and a hysterectomy has been recommended, you may be a candidate for a non-invasive procedure that allows you to keep your uterus. Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical procedure that is 90% effective in getting rid of all fibroid symptoms. The procedure shrinks and destroys all fibroids of any size regardless of what you may have heard from your OB/GYN.
UFE allows a woman to keep her uterus fully functional, without risks and complications from any fibroid surgery. It’s an outpatient procedure that requires no general anesthesia, and most patients go home on the same day with just a bandaid on their wrist. At the Atlanta Fibroid Center®, UFE takes about 45 min to perform and has a recovery time of about a week allowing women to quickly return to their normal lives.
If you have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids and have been told you need a hysterectomy, please contact Atlanta Fibroid Center® and Dr. John Lipman at (770) 953-2600 for a second opinion, or make an appointment online.