What is a Hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy is a gynecological surgery to remove the uterus. It is a very common treatment for patients with severe uterine health problems. Often (far too often, if you ask me), this procedure is done as a “traditional open surgery” with a hospital admission, multi-day hospital stay, large abdominal incision, and a recovery that can last multiple months.
Nowadays, hysterectomies don’t have to be like that. With advances in women’s healthcare, we can (and should!) turn hysterectomies into minimally invasive procedures where the patient goes home the same day and can return to normal activities in just a few weeks.
Unfortunately, there are too few surgeons that perform this surgery laparoscopically. I do over 99% of mine this way. For more information about our advanced outpatient surgical procedures, please visit our Outpatient Hysterectomy Center website.
When is a hysterectomy the best option?
Many patients choose a hysterectomy after they have exhausted all other treatment options. However, it’s not uncommon to wait to have a hysterectomy until you’re finished having children. Because any hysterectomy involves surgical removal of the uterus, you can no longer become pregnant after a hysterectomy.
Some women with a family history of some cancers may choose this procedure to help reduce the chances of such problems as they age.
Some gynecological conditions that may be treated with a hysterectomy include:
- severe endometriosis
- uterine fibroids
- uterine prolapse
- cancer of the uterus or other nearby reproductive organs
- abnormal uterine bleeding
- chronic pelvic pain
In the following videos, Dr. Aliabadi performs outpatient hysterectomy on Sheila, who was suffering from fibroids. Watch Sheila’s story and her amazing recovery.
Elective hysterectomy surgery
Some women may choose to have elective surgery to remove their uterus, ovaries, and/or fallopian tubes if they are at high risk for cancer. If you have a strong family history of cancer, or you are a member of another high-risk group, talk with your gynecologist about elective risk-reduction surgery.
As more and more people are electing to remain childless, interest in elective hysterectomy has also been rising. A hysterectomy generally comes with more side effects that traditional birth control (such as early-onset menopause), so be sure to weigh all possible pros and cons with your OB/GYN
What is removed during a hysterectomy surgery?
There are three primary types of hysterectomy, categorized by the amount of tissue that is removed.
The complete removal of the uterus and cervix. Most patients under go a complete or total hysterectomy. This can be an abdominal surgery or as a total laparoscopic hysterectomy.
Also called a partial hysterectomy, this is the removal of the uterus only leaving the cervix and surrounding organs intact. A supracervical hysterectomy may be performed through abdominal surgery or laparoscopic surgery.
If you’ve never had an abnormal Pap smear and aren’t at risk of cervical cancer, you may be eligible for this type of hysterectomy.
In this procedure, the uterus and cervix are removed, as well as some surrounding tissue, such as the ovaries (oophorectomy) or fallopian tubes (salpingectomy). Your doctor may recommend this procedure if you have a gynecologic cancer, or if your pelvic organs are affected by endometriosis.
What methods are used to perform a hysterectomy?There are a few common methods used to perform a hysterectomy. The method your doctor recommends will depend on your medical history, age, general health, and how much tissue is to be removed. It’s possible that the surgeon may begin the hysterectomy with one method, but then change methods if they find existing complications.
This is the most common type of hysterectomy surgery. This is an “open surgery” that requires hospital admission and several days of inpatient recovery. As mentioned above, while this is a common way to perform a hysterectomy, it is almost always a far more invasive surgery than is necessary.
The surgeon makes an incision in the lower abdomen, underneath your navel, to expose the pelvic organs. The uterine tissue is then removed through the incision. Abdominal surgery is traditionally recommended for patients with large uteruses or those who have pelvic scar tissue from damage or disease. This type of surgery carries some risk of complications, including blood loss, tissue damage, and infection.
Virtually all our minimally invasive hysterectomies are performed via laparoscopy. Dr. Aliabadi makes a few tiny incisions in the patient’s abdomen and completes the surgery with the aid of a laparoscope — a narrow, flexible instrument with a lighted camera at the end.
Traditionally, the tissue is removed in small pieces through the incisions — but that is not how we perform the surgery. This technique carries a risk of spreading cells throughout the abdomen, and we don’t want that in case there are any pre-cancerous cells in the tissue. It’s just not safe.
Our technique includes wrapping tissue in a surgical bag before removal. This bag stops the existing tissue from contaminating any other tissue when it is being removed.
This type of surgery also has less pain than an abdominal hysterectomy, less risk of infection, and less scarring. But our patient’s favorite benefit of minimally invasive surgery is faster recovery time — you’ll have weeks of recovery instead of months!
Laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH)
This procedure removes the uterus through the vagina, with the assistance of a laparoscope inserted through small incisions in your abdomen. There are generally fewer risks with this type of surgery, and recovery time is much quicker than with abdominal methods. However, women who have very large uteruses or who have pelvic adhesions, may not be able to have this type of surgery.
This procedure is typically conducted laparoscopically with the aid of a robotic surgical instrument that the surgeon controls. Though often touted as being state-of-the-art, robotic surgery is often less precise and can have a less predictable outcome.
Depending on the type of surgery, you will need to stay in the hospital for a few days following the procedure. You will likely experience some pain, however, your doctor can help you manage this with medication.
With our minimally invasive approach, you can leave a few hours after surgery and recover in the comfort of your own home.
As with most major surgeries, blood clotting is one possible complication. You will be asked to walk around after your surgery to facilitate circulation in your legs.
Some mild to moderate vaginal bleeding and discharge following the surgery is normal — be sure to use sanitary pads instead of tampons. It might be difficult to have a bowel movement or completely empty your bladder for a few days after a hysterectomy.
For 6-8 weeks after your surgery, you should:
- Get plenty of rest
- Avoid heavy lifting
- Get some light exercise. Taking short walks every day will improve your circulation and help you regain your strength.
- Avoid vaginal intercourse
- Avoid inserting anything into your vagina, including douches and tampons
- Call your OB/GYN if you experience any signs of infection, such as fever, chills, nausea, or vomiting
Why choose Dr. Aliabadi for your outpatient hysterectomy?
Dr. Thais Aliabadi and her team accompany women throughout every stage of their reproductive care, including the joyful and the stressful periods.
At our women’s health clinic, our focus is to help the patient decide what’s best for their own lifestyles. For this, we offer a full range of medical procedures – from routine pap smears to specialized hormonal tests – as well as a listening ear.
In addition to her own expertise, Dr. Aliabadi also teaches residents at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and medical students at the University of Southern California.
We invite you to establish care with Dr. Aliabadi. Please make an appointment online or call us at (844) 863-6700.
The gynecology practice of Dr. Thais Aliabadi is conveniently located for patients throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area. We are near Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, Culver City, Hollywood, Venice, Marina del Rey, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, and Downtown Los Angeles.