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How Do I Manage Swelling after a Hysterectomy?

A. Pasbjerg
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Many women experience abdominal swelling after a hysterectomy, but there are a variety of ways they can manage the issue. It is very important to get enough rest to allow the incisions to heal; too much activity too soon after surgery can contribute to swelling. Anti-inflammatory medications are another option that can provide relief. Applying ice packs may reduce inflammation around the surgical site. Bands or underwear that provide support of the abdomen may also help.

One of the most common causes of swelling after having a hysterectomy is too much activity. A hysterectomy is a major surgical procedure and the body needs time to recuperate and heal; women who are eager to get back to normal quickly may do too much too fast. Excessive walking, lifting, or even standing can aggravate the tissues in the abdomen and cause them to swell, and may eventually lead to injury. Women recovering from surgery should be sure to follow their doctor's orders regarding rest and appropriate levels of activity, even if they feel they can do more.

Medication is another option to manage swelling after a hysterectomy. Many doctors will prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs for patients prior to sending them home after surgery. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs, which are available over the counter, may also be helpful for reducing swelling as well as helping to manage pain. Patients should consult with their doctors before taking any drug to ensure it is the best option.

Application of cold may also help bring down abdominal swelling after a hysterectomy. Swelling is generally caused by inflammation of the tissues around the incisions, and cold helps reduce the inflammation. Ice packs or cold compresses should be applied to the swollen area for brief periods of time, followed by breaks to keep the tissue from becoming too cold. They should not be applied directly to the skin or left on until the area becomes numb.

Those suffering from swelling after a hysterectomy swelling may also benefit from using compression on the surgical site. Compression can help reduce fluid accumulation in the surrounding tissues. One option is the use of compression bands that go around the stomach to help control any shifting of internal structures during healing. Support hose or underwear may also be used. They should be supportive but not restrictive, as ones that are too tight may aggravate the swelling instead of helping.

What Should I Do Before Surgery To Ensure Minimal Hysterectomy Swelling

There are steps that a woman can take before getting surgery to make sure that swelling after hysterectomy is minimal. Obesity is linked to abnormal post-surgical healing. Losing weight can help heal and decrease swelling. 

Smoking is linked to greater chances of post-surgical complications and delayed healing. A longer healing duration means an extended period for swelling too. Women planning to undergo a hysterectomy should quit smoking before the surgery. 

How Diet Helps Reduce Swelling After Hysterectomy 

Dietary modifications can also play a crucial role in speeding up the process of recovery following a surgical procedure. As the hysterectomy procedure involves the abdominal region, it is essential to take care of diet. Eating a well-balanced diet including lots of proteins and fruits and vegetables can help speed up recovery.

Most women complain of having constipation after the surgery. So, to avoid such complications, it is essential to incorporate high-fiber foods or fiber supplements into the diet.

Adding anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric and ginger can also fasten up the healing process and remove swelling from the surgery site. Taking plenty of fluids, primarily water, can also be beneficial in lowering the swelling. Copious amounts of water will keep you hydrated and also prevent post-surgical constipation. 

Risks Associated With Abdominal Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is generally a safe procedure, and complications are rare. However, as with any surgery, hysterectomy has a few inherent risks, including blood clots, infection, bleeding, and bowel blockage.

Any persistent abnormality should be reported to the doctor as soon as possible. Conditions that you must carefully observe include severe pain and strong-smelling bleeding from the vagina (can be white discharge), red discharge from the incision site and stitches, severe problems with urination, constipation, persistent fever, and shortness of breath. 

How Long Does It Take for Swelling To Go Away After Hysterectomy?

The healing process varies from individual to individual. However, it typically takes several weeks for hysterectomy swelling to reduce. It may take 6 to 8 weeks before puffiness of the abdomen is alleviated.

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A. Pasbjerg
By A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a The Health Board contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.

Discussion Comments

By SarahGen — On Dec 01, 2013

@ysmina-- Pick up an anti-inflammatory topical ointment from the pharmacy. My doctor prescribed one for me in gel form for hysterectomy pain and swelling. I use it in addition to an oral anti-inflammatory and it has helped a lot.

By candyquilt — On Nov 30, 2013

@ysmina-- I don't think that salt has anything to do with it, but you should be drinking plenty of water and eating healthy during your recovery. Staying hydrated will help reduce swelling and it will also help medications leave your body.

Have you been moving around too much or lifting bags or anything like that? It's too soon for you to be doing house chores or going grocery shopping. You need to be laying down and resting for most of the time. You are still healing.

Activity is the number one reason for excessive swelling after a hysterectomy procedure. I made the same mistake after my surgery. I started moving around, buying groceries, dropping kids off at school. That's when my swelling got very bad. After resting, the swelling reduced again. So please take it easy and rest. It's important.

By ysmina — On Nov 30, 2013

Will reducing my salt intake help with hysterectomy swelling? I had a partial hysterectomy two weeks ago. I don't know what's going on because I have more abdominal swelling now than I did following my hysterectomy. I'm wondering if it's edema and if cutting out salt from my diet will help. I'm already taking an anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication.

Does anyone have any recommendations for me?

A. Pasbjerg

A. Pasbjerg

Andrea Pasbjerg, a The Health Board contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
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