You will be encouraged to start moving around as soon as possible. You will have been given support stockings to wear before your operation. These help prevent blood clots developing in your legs, and you may be asked to wear them for up to six weeks after you go home. While you are in hospital, you will be given small injections under the skin (subcutaneously) to prevent blood clots.
If you have to stay in bed, it is important to do regular leg movements and deep breathing exercises. A physiotherapist or specialist nurse will show you how to do these.
Drips and drains
You will usually have a drip (intravenous infusion) to give you fluids until you are able to eat and drink normally.
You may have a drainage tube in your wound or tummy (abdomen) to drain excess fluid into a small bottle. This is usually removed after a few days.
Normally, a small tube (catheter) is put into your bladder and urine is drained into a collection bag. It is usually taken out a few hours after your operation, but sometimes it may need to stay in for longer.
It is quite normal to have some pain or discomfort for a few days, but this can be controlled effectively with painkillers. It is important to let your doctor know as soon as possible if the pain is not controlled, so that your painkillers can be changed.
You may be given painkillers through an epidural for the first day after surgery. This is a small, thin tube that is inserted in the space just outside the membranes surrounding your spinal cord in your back. This gives you continuous pain relief.
Some women may be given painkillers through a small pump attached to the arm or hand. This is called patient-controlled analgesia (PCA). It allows you to release painkillers directly into the bloodstream by pressing a button. The machine is set so that you always get a safe dose and can’t have too much.
Care of your wound
After a hysterectomy, the wound is closed using clips, stitches or sometimes skin glue. Clips or stitches are usually removed after you go home by a practice nurse at your GP surgery. Some surgeons use dissolving stitches, which don’t need to be removed. These will dissolve completely when the area is healed. Dissolving stitches are also used for a vaginal hysterectomy.
At first your scar will look like a red line, but this will gradually fade until it looks like a thin, white line. It may also feel itchy and a bit lumpy. It is important to let your doctor know straight away if your wound becomes hot, painful or begins to bleed or leak any fluid.
Bowel disturbance is very common after a hysterectomy, particularly constipation. If you are having problems opening your bowels after surgery, talk to your doctor or nurse. See your GP if you start to have problems after being discharged from hospital.
It is important to have a bath or shower every day while you are in hospital and when you go home.
It is common to have a vaginal discharge for up to six weeks after your hysterectomy. This is usually reddish brown in colour. If the discharge becomes bright red, heavy, or contains clots, or if the discharge is smelly, contact your doctor straight away. Use sanitary pads rather than tampons. Tampons can increase the risk of an infection at this time.
Many women experience low mood about three days after surgery. This may last for 24 to 48 hours, and is a normal reaction to a stressful event such as surgery after being diagnosed with cancer. It is usually temporary and your nurse specialist will be able to support you.