Tip

Continue to take your pain medicine. Research shows that patients who receive good pain management do better after surgery.

Activity will be easier, more comfortable, and you will get your strength back sooner. It is important not to let your pain get out of control.

Commonly asked questions

Call your doctor if:

  • you develop a temperature of 101 F or higher
  • you have nausea (upset stomach) and vomiting (throwing up) that will not stop
  • you have increased pain that cannot be relieved with rest or pain medicine
  • you have bright red vaginal bleeding that saturates one pad or more per hour. (It is normal to have some vaginal discharge for several weeks. It may vary in color from red to pink to brown to tan.)
  • your incision becomes red, more tender, has increased drainage, or signs of infection:
    • pain
    • swelling
    • redness
    • odor
    • warmth
    • green or yellow discharge
  • you have hives (itchy raised rash)
  • you have any new pain or swelling in your legs
  • you have problems breathing
  • you have chest pain that gets worse with deep breathing or coughing
  • you have any change in movement (such as new weakness or inability to move as usual)
  • you are unable to urinate or have pain or burning when you urinate
  • you have constipation not relieved by changing your eating habits or taking laxatives. (It is normal to have changes in your bowel habits. Pain medicines can cause constipation.)
  • you have any questions or concerns

In an emergency, call 911 or have someone take you to the nearest hospital Emergency Department.

Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to schedule your follow-up appointment. When you get home, call your doctor's office for a surgery follow-up appointment if you don't already have one or if you have any questions or concerns.
  • You should look at your incision every day and keep it clean while it heals.
  • Do not put any creams, salves or ointments on the area.
  • Protect the incision from sunlight.
  • If Steri-Strips® were used on the incision, they will begin to fall off as the incision heals. If they don't, you can remove them 10 days after your surgery.
  • Follow your surgeon's directions for Dermabond® (a surgical glue). It will fall off as the incision heals. Do not scratch, rub or pick at the glue.
  • If staples were used, they will be removed three to seven days after surgery.
  • If your incision has no drainage, you do not need to use a dressing.
  • You may take a shower the day after surgery.
  • If you have Steri-Strips, you do not need to cover your incision when taking a shower.
  • You can take a tub bath seven days after your surgery or when you are easily able to get in and out of the bathtub.

Constipation can be caused by pain medicine, iron tablets, improper diets and decreased activity. It is important to try not to become constipated and to keep your stools soft.

If you do become constipated, it can be relieved by:

  • drinking six to eight glasses of fluid each day
  • keeping active
  • increasing the fiber in your diet with whole grain bread, bran cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables
  • decreasing the use of your pain medicine when you can
  • taking an over-the-counter laxative or stool softener, such as Senokot®, milk of magnesia, Colace® or Miralax®.

Talk to your doctor if you have tried the tips listed above and your constipation lasts more than three days.

  • Your first activities at home should be similar to those you were doing in the hospital. Remember, your recovery will take several weeks of steady progress before you feel your best.
  • You should get up and walk every one to two hours during the day. Start out with short walks and gradually increase your distance.
  • Avoid heavy exercising for six weeks. It is OK to take long walks as you are able to.
  • Rest is as important as exercise. After surgery, your energy level will be low and you will get tired easily. When you feel tired, your body is telling you to rest for awhile. Some days you will have more energy than others. It takes about six to eight weeks to fully recover.
  • Lifting guidelines:
    • Abdominal hysterectomy: Avoid lifting anything that weighs more than 10 pounds for six weeks after your surgery.
    • Laparoscopic total hysterectomy: Avoid lifting anything that weighs more than 25 pounds for six weeks after your surgery. Light household lifting is OK.
    • Laparoscopic subtotal hysterectomy: Avoid lifting anything that weights more than 25 pounds for one to two weeks after your surgery. Light household lifting is OK.
  • Avoid activities that risk direct injury to your incision.

Tip

A full gallon of milk weighs about nine pounds.

  • You can drive three days to two weeks after your surgery when your incision is comfortable enough to let you step on the brake quickly and you are no longer taking prescription pain medicine.
  • Do not drive while taking pain medicine because it can impair your judgment and ability to operate the car safely.
You should be able to return to work or your hobbies one to six weeks after your surgery depending on the type of surgery you have. Discuss returning to work or hobbies with your doctor.
  • Abdominal hysterectomy: You can resume sexual activity six weeks after your surgery.
  • Laparoscopic total hysterectomy: You can resume sexual activity eight weeks after your surgery.
  • Laparoscopic subtotal hysterectomy: You can resume sexual activity four weeks after your surgery.
  • Your doctor may give you other instructions. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk with your doctor.
  • Abdominal hysterectomy: Do not use tampons for six weeks after your surgery.
  • Laparoscopic total hysterectomy: Do not use tampons for eight weeks after your surgery.
  • Laparoscopic subtotal hysterectomy: Do not use tampons for one to two weeks after surgery.
  • If you have any vaginal drainage, you will need to wear a pad.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Preparing for Your Hysterectomy, gyn-ah-95582
Reviewed By: Allina Health Patient Education experts
First Published: 04/25/2013
Last Reviewed: 11/30/2015