Post Operative Guidelines for Open Abdominal Surgery, Laparotomy, Open Hysterectomy


What to expect:
It is normal to have light vaginal bleeding or spotting for up to 6 weeks. A small amount of thin drainage from the incision site is common. Gauze can be worn to protect your clothing.
Avoid heaving lifting of more than 10-15 lbs. or abdominal straining for 6 weeks.
Fatigue is common when you go home. Walking and going up and down stairs is fine, but don’t overdo it. No strenuous activity for 4-6 weeks. You should be up and out of bed everyday.
Lack of appetite is common. Try to eat small, frequent meals and drink plenty of un-caffeinated fluids. If you are unable to eat much, a nutrition supplement such as Boost or Ensure may be added. If you are unable to keep any fluids down for a 24 hr period, notify our office.
It is normal for your bowels to take time to return to normal. You may not have a bowel movement for several days. Drink plenty of fluids and take the stool softener as prescribed. Milk of Magnesia may be used if you still have not had a bowel movement and are becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
You may shower normally. Avoid tub baths for 4 weeks. Keep the incision clean and dry.
You may drive when you feel ready and are no longer taking narcotic pain medications. This is usually one to two weeks after discharge.
A prescription for pain medicine will be given to you at discharge. Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) may also be useful for pain control in addition to the narcotic medicine. A heating pad on your abdomen may help with gas pain.
Intercourse, tampons, and douching should be avoiding for a minimum of 4 weeks. Be sure to discuss with your provider prior to returning to intercourse.
If you haven’t already, contact our office to arrange for staple removal. Your staples should be removed approximately 10-14 days following surgery
Notify our office if you experience any of the following:
  • Painful swelling, increasing redness, copious or thick drainage from the incision
  • Fever greater than 100.4
  • Vaginal bleeding that soaks more than one pad per hour
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Worsening abdominal pain
  • Calf pain or one sided swelling in your leg
  • Shortness of breath