Hysterectomy: How to Prepare

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Preparation for a hysterectomy starts as soon as you schedule your surgery date. Your doctor may recommend pre-operative lifestyle changes, like exercise and smoking cessation, in order to get your body as healthy and as ready for surgery as possible. Then, as your surgery date gets closer, you will receive specific instructions pertaining to the day of your hysterectomy, like what medications to take or skip, what to wear and pack, and when to stop eating.

Location

Most hysterectomies are performed under general anesthesia in the surgical unit of a hospital. That said, a laparoscopic hysterectomy may be performed as an outpatient procedure—usually in an outpatient hospital surgery department, or occasionally, within a freestanding ambulatory surgery center.

You will probably be asked to arrive at the hospital or surgical center approximately two hours prior to your scheduled surgical time.

Once you arrive, you will be taken to a preoperative room, where you will change into a hospital gown. At this time, a preoperative area nurse may take your vitals and place a peripheral IV. Fluids and medicine, such as an antibiotic to prevent infection, will be administered through this peripheral IV.

While waiting in the preoperative room, you will also:

  • See your surgeon and any other physicians or nurses who are assisting with the surgery
  • Sign surgery and anesthesia consent forms
  • Probably be given a sedative medication to help relax you prior to being wheeled into the operating room

Once in the operating room, you will be attached to various monitoring devices and given more sedating medication to put you to sleep.

What to Wear

It's important to wear comfortable shoes and loose-fitting clothing when you arrive at the hospital. Do not wear makeup and be sure to leave valuables, like jewelry, at home.

At the hospital, your clothes, shoes, and personal belongings will be placed in a plastic bag, which will be given back to you after the surgery.

Food and Drink

While you will want to check-in with your surgeon first, patients are often instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the eve of their surgery.

In addition, you may be restricted to a light breakfast and lunch followed by a clear liquid diet on the day before your surgery. Clear liquids include any of the following:

  • Water
  • Apple, white grape juice, or lemonade (no pulp)
  • Tea or coffee with no milk or creamer
  • Broth
  • Soda
  • Gelatin

Medications

Prior to surgery, you will have an appointment with your surgeon to review the details of the surgery. You will also meet with someone from the anesthesia department.

During your anesthesia visit (or phone call, in some instances), a member of the anesthesia team will review your medications.

To prevent surgical complications, be sure to inform your surgeon and the anesthesia team of all of the medications you are taking, including:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Supplements, like vitamins or herbal products
  • Recreational drugs

You will be advised on which medications you can continue and which medicines you should stop (and if so, when) prior to the surgery.

For instance, you may be instructed to stop medicines like aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which may increase your risk of bleeding during surgery.

Prior to surgery, your surgeon may also give you instructions for preparing your bowels; although bowel preparation is now falling out of standard practice because it has not been found to protect against surgical site infection.

What to Bring

Depending on the type of hysterectomy performed, you will stay in the hospital for around one to four nights.

To ensure you are prepared, here is a list of items you should bring with you to the hospital on the day of your surgery:

  • Your insurance card
  • All of your medications, including supplements, in their original bottle
  • A change of clothes for leaving the hospital (the rest of the time you will be in a gown)
  • Your personal toiletries, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, etc.

Before your surgery, arrange for a loved one or friend to drive you home after the procedure. You will also need someone to help you with basic chores (e.g., cooking, cleaning, and driving you to appointments) for a few weeks until you are recovered. Lining that up ahead of time can make your return home less stressful.

Pre-Op Lifestyle Changes

In order to maximize your healing and recovery, it's important to start engaging in healthy lifestyle practices several weeks before your surgery (if possible).

These practices include:

  • Staying physical active: It's also a good idea to talk with your surgeon about specific exercises that may help you recover from the hysterectomy.
  • Eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet to help prevent infection and prepare your body for the recovery process
  • Stopping smoking to help improve your healing rate and lower your risk for infection

If you experience severe symptoms such as severe vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain at any point during your preparation for a hysterectomy, seek emergency medical attention.

A Word From Verywell

It's normal to feel a little anxious prior to undergoing any surgery, including a hysterectomy. By being prepared and carefully following your surgeon's pre-operative instructions, you can hopefully minimize your worries and optimize your healing and recovery.

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