One of the most confusing things after a hysterectomy is how to handle strange or uncomfortable symptoms that persist – especially once you’ve been told you’re all healed up.
It doesn’t matter if your hysterectomy was performed vaginally or through your abdominal wall, whether it was by a “bikini line incision,” laparoscopically, or by a combination of vaginal and abdominal wall incisions. No matter how your uterus is removed, all of the same healing principles apply.
Even if your surgery got unexpectedly complicated, you can still heal and recover fully in the long run.
Most women are “released” by their surgeons and doctors six weeks after surgery. But in reality, the six-week mark (or once your scar has fully closed) is where some of the most important healing begins.
If you’re feeling any of the following, please know this is normal! It is extremely common for these kinds of symptoms to continue long after you’ve been released by your surgeon or doctor.
Here are the things you can do to help yourself fully recover once you’ve been released from care by your doctors:
1. Don’t expect too much, too fast. You just had major abdominal surgery that resulted in the removal of one of your organs. This is a big, big deal. Any lingering symptoms are real and you can plan in advance to help them resolve. Also, it is never too late to help yourself. Even if your hysterectomy was many years ago, everything below can help you get real results and increased comfort in your body.
2. Scar numbness and pain: If your scars are entirely internal, consider getting care from a trained internal pelvic care practitioner. If you can see and touch your scars on your belly, then start by gently laying your hands over them and see what kind of reaction you have.
In the beginning, it is completely normal for a scar to feel numb but also painful around it. It is also normal to feel revulsion and even nausea when you first think about, or actually touch, your scars. But once you know the wound is healed, it’s time to start training your brain and nervous system to accept touch and let you start helping the scar to be fully functional.
Many people worry about adhesion after surgery, and this is an important consideration. Of course we need the scar to create adhesion in order to heal the wound. But after that, it is so helpful to give yourself gentle massage on and around the scar to keep it from sticking to the other tissues in your belly.
The first step in this process is to just gently lay your hands over your scars. Then, as that becomes more comfortable, start to gently massage them. If you’d like some safe techniques for this, I have programs on my website to teach you safe belly massage. It is also very helpful to find a qualified practitioner in your area to help you.
3. New discomfort or pain with digestion: The uterus expands and contracts quite a bit throughout any given month – as it goes through that expansion and contraction, it lofts the lower loops of your intestines. Once your uterus has been removed, suddenly your intestines are now being lofted by your bladder instead. So it makes total sense that you might experience changes to your digestion and urination!
In this case, lying down comfortably and using your hands to make very gentle scooping motions upward from your pelvis to your ribs can give you a great start in helping your intestines and bladder get used to their new relationship. Just remember to be very gentle with this and start slow.
4. Restricted or uncomfortable movement, stretching, or exercise: Scars (both the ones we can see and the ones inside that we can’t) are notorious for creating restricted movement in the body. If it has been a little while since your surgery and you are noticing that you’re not as flexible as you used to be, then the hands-on massage of your belly can go a long way in helping you get that range of motion back.
In this case, remember that your legs attach to your pelvic bones – and therefore, your legs are very important in regaining your abdominal range of motion. In addition to your belly massage, it’s important to stretch your abdomen and your legs as frequently as possible so everything can get used to working together in a happy way again.
About Isabel Spradlin, LMT is a long-time abdominal practitioner. For more than a decade she has been helping people recover from abdominal surgery, adhesions, and other abdominal distress. More help from Isabel can be found at abdominaladhesiontreatment.com.
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