While many women delay treatment for gynecologic concerns, citing they are too busy to spend a week in the hospital and several more at home in bed, robotic surgery presents a surgical alternative with a recovery time that is typically much shorter than in traditional surgery. At Loma Linda University Medical Center, gynecologic robotic surgery patients typically leave the hospital the next day and are back to their regular activities in 2-4 weeks.
Historically, a large incision required for a hysterectomy or other gynecologic surgery meant that the patient was going to be in a great deal of pain for a significant amount of time. Thanks to the smaller incisions used in minimally invasive surgery, patients can expect to have significantly less pain and be walking around within 24 hours of having surgery. The surgeons at Loma Linda's Center for Robotic and Minimally Invasive Gynecology are known for providing excellence in patient outcomes, so you can expect good results from your surgery.
Here are some common expectations in the first few days and weeks after surgery:
- Surgery time varies from about 1 to 2 hours for simple cases, to 4-5 hours for very complex cases. We will stay in touch with your family during the surgery by pager, and meet with them in person after the case is finished. We generally document our findings in surgery with color pictures, video, or both. A copy of the pictures and video can be given to you on request, for your files.
- Most patients spend about 1 to 2 hours in the post-surgical recovery unit. If an overnight stay is needed, they are then transferred to our post-operative floor. Family will be notified by pager so they can see the patient.
- Patients are encouraged to walk and eat regular foods the day of surgery, as tolerated. Medications for pain, nausea, and bloating are given through the IV, or by mouth.
- Most patients are ready for discharge the day after surgery. Our team will meet with you in the morning to determine when you will be ready to go.
- Because of both the anesthesia and the surgery, the intestines are often slowed down. This results in mild to moderate bloating for most patients, lasting for several days. Anti-gas medications and frequent walking will help to minimize the duration of discomfort.
- On discharge, we will send you home with a prescription for the medications that have worked well for you in the hospital. If there is any problem with these medicines, please call our office.
- After minimally invasive and robotic surgery, there is no need for bed rest at home. Patients will have some discomfort and increased fatigue, but should try to stay active, walking slowly and often – increasing walking time as they are able.
- Patients should eat a healthy diet and drink lots of water to speed healing
- Try to get plenty of sleep each night. Patients often discontinue pain medications in the first week after surgery, but taking these before bedtime can increase comfortable sleeping time.
- Avoid straining and heavy lifting over about 20 pounds
- Most patients can drive in the first few days after surgery if they are not using narcotic pain medications.
- Our team will instruct you on when to return for a postoperative check up when you are discharged. Usually, 1 to 2 weeks after surgery.
- Most patients can return to work in about 2 weeks. If your work involves heavy lifting or other strenuous activity, it is best to wait 6 weeks.
- If a hysterectomy has been performed, please abstain from sex for the first 6 weeks to allow time for healing of the vagina. Your doctor will perform a gentle exam at 6 weeks to ensure vaginal healing is complete.
- In general, post surgical discomfort, nausea, and bloating should decrease steadily each day. If pain worsens or becomes severe, fever develops, or bleeding from the vagina or the incisions is noted, please call our office right away. If it is after hours the hospital operator can page a member of our on-call team.
Sex After Hysterectomy
Important Information about Sex After Hysterectomy
Some of the most common questions asked of our robotic surgical team are in regards to sex after hysterectomy.
How long should I wait before having sex after hysterectomy?
Recovery time does vary from one woman to the next, but our surgeons recommend waiting 6 weeks before engaging in sexual intercourse.
Will I experience a decrease in sexual desire?
If ovaries are removed during robotic hysterectomy, sexual desire may be impacted due to decreased levels of estrogen. Hormone replacement therapy can help reverse this issue. If ovaries are left intact, sexual desire should not be affected. In fact, many women find their sex life is positively impacted during this time of renewal.
What if vaginal dryness is a problem during sex after hysterectomy?
Estrogen creams (by prescription) or over-the-counter lubricants can provide relief. Keep in mind that your choice of a robotic hysterectomy greatly reduces the risk of damage to the pelvic autonomic nerves of the vaginal wall, which are responsible for the control of lubrication.