Post-surgical care following a hysterectomy typically includes a specific drug regimen and plenty of rest. Depending on the extent of invasiveness of the surgery, hysterectomy aftercare may involve one to several days spent in the hospital. Up to eight weeks of light to no work may also be advised.
Typical hysterectomy patients remain in the hospital for two to five days following the procedure. Hysterectomy aftercare during these first few days is provided by medical staff. This care often includes a morphine pump to dispense medication at the patient's request or a post-operative epidural to manage pain.
Pain management following the patient's release from the hospital is a key component of hysterectomy aftercare. Most women feel varying degrees of discomfort following the operation. These levels of pain are usually dependent on factors associated with the operation, such as its duration, complications, and type of hysterectomy performed.
Most women are prescribed pain medication to help ease the discomfort after surgery. Such painkillers are typically narcotics, and are designed to be taken every four to six hours. Since these pain medications often cause constipation, doctors usually prescribe a stool softener along with the prescription.
Patients can usually take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine in conjunction with prescription drugs after a hysterectomy. A doctor should issue recommendations on which drugs are safe, as well as how often they should be administered. Non-medicated pain management techniques, such as the use of heating pads, are also available.
Limiting one's movement is an important part of hysterectomy aftercare. Walking should be slow, easy, and brief during the first few days. Patients should not engage in heavy lifting, climbing stairs, or operating motor vehicles until released by a doctor. Doctors may also prescribe specific dietary guidelines to follow for optimal healing.
Part of post-operative hysterectomy care includes keeping wounds clean and free of infection. To do this, sheets should be washed prior to the surgery, allowing the patient to rest comfortably on clean linens. Loose-fitting clothing should be worn rather than constrictive layers that can irritate the wound.
During hysterectomy aftercare, women should watch for signs of infection or other problems. Bleeding, dizziness, fever, and swelling should be reported to a doctor. After a hysterectomy, a woman will no longer experience monthly periods from her menstrual cycle. A vaginal discharge and some blood, however, may be released following a hysterectomy. Plenty of sanitary napkins should be kept on hand for post-surgical care.