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Ask Our Physicians: Hysterectomy Procedures

Posted on November 2, 2016
Steven Pierce, MD
Steven Pierce, MD

DEAR DR. PIERCE:

My doctor told me I need a hysterectomy. When my mom had her hysterectomy, her physician removed all her female organs, and she still has to take hormones. Will this be the same for me? What hysterectomy procedures are available?

More than half a million of women in the United States have a hysterectomy each year – so common, it’s second only to cesarean section. A hysterectomy is suggested for many reasons, including pelvic organ prolapse, gynecological cancers, uterine fibroids, pelvic pain, endometriosis, and many other causes. But with medical advancements, a hysterectomy doesn’t always mean all those important female organs have to go. There are many hysterectomy procedures performed today. And did you know there are hysterectomy alternatives? At Fort Sanders Women’s Specialists, we believe a hysterectomy should be your last resort.

Hormonal Treatments and Drug Therapies

Your gynecologist will most likely recommend hormonal treatments and drug therapies to control symptoms, especially if you are struggling with heavy bleeding, endometriosis, fibroids, and polyps.

These types of treatments include:

  • Oral contraceptives
  • NSAIDs and other anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Progestins and various hormone combinations
  • IUD placement
  • Bioidentical hormones

Minimally-Invasive Surgical Alternatives

In addition to drug or hormone replacement therapies, there are minimally-invasive alternatives to a total hysterectomy:

  • Myomectomy: an outpatient procedure where fibroids are removed, leaving most of the uterus untouched. This controls symptoms in about 80% of women.
  • Endometrial ablation: a one-time procedure to “burn off” excess uterine lining
  • Uterine embolization: similar to a heart catherization where blood supply to the tumor is purposely blocked

When should a woman consider a hysterectomy, and what are the available hysterectomy procedures?

When hormonal therapies, drug treatments, and surgical alternatives fail to control symptoms, a hysterectomy will be suggested. For women who require a hysterectomy, minimally invasive and robotic procedures are our specialty at Fort Sanders Women’s Specialists. More than 95% of our hysterectomies are performed using minimally invasive surgery.

  • daVinci robotic hysterectomy: removes the uterus and cervix through two to five small incisions in the stomach and out through the vagina. This method is frequently performed as an outpatient procedure with a recovery time of approximately three weeks. Typically there is less blood loss with a robotic hysterectomy than with a vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy.
  • LAVH (Laparoscopically-Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy): removes any affected pelvic organs through two to four small incisions in the stomach and out through the vagina. This method requires an overnight hospital stay with a recovery time of approximately three to four weeks. Typically there is less blood loss with LAVH than with a vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy.

More traditional hysterectomies include:

  • Vaginal hysterectomy: removes the uterus and cervix through the vagina. This method requires an overnight hospital stay with a recovery time of approximately three to four weeks.
  • Abdominal hysterectomy: removes the uterus and sometimes the cervix through an incision in the abdomen. This method requires three to four days in the hospital with a recovery time of approximately four to six weeks.

Learn More

If you have questions about troublesome symptoms, alternatives to a hysterectomy, or whether a hysterectomy – and what type – is right for you, please call our office and schedule an appointment to learn more about your options.

About Dr. Pierce:

Steven Pierce, MD understands the full scope of women’s health concerns and feels maintaining open and honest communication with patients is imperative to provide the best possible care.

Dr. Pierce specializes in:

  • Colposcopy
  • Abnormal pap smears
  • Vaginal slings
  • Urogynecolgy
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Endometrial ablation surgeries
  • Minimally invasive hysterectomy and gynecologic surgeries

For more information about Dr. Pierce, please click here to see his profile. He is accepting new patients, and you can make an appointment with him by calling the office at (865) 331-1122.

Disclaimer: please note that this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice. If you have a specific medical question or issue, we encourage you to call our office at (865) 331-1122 and schedule an appointment.


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