Can a Hysterectomy Make You Look 10 Years Younger?

by Lauren Streicher, MD

Have you ever known someone that took time off from work to recover from a hysterectomy and returned looking younger and really well rested? She of course said that getting rid of her bleeding fibroids did her a world of good. The truth is, she may have taken advantage of the downtime from her surgery to have a few other things taken care of. Like her face, breasts and protruding belly. For many women, a medically indicated operation is the ideal time to sneak in some bonus surgery.

Very few women are thrilled about having a hysterectomy. Even when they know that it is medically the right thing to do, it’s often difficult psychologically. Having a hysterectomy, more than any other type of surgery, stirs up all kinds of troublesome emotions … getting older, end of potential fertility, and for some, the beginning of menopause. Planning a cosmetic procedure that you’ve always secretly wanted is a way to turn things around. You may be losing your uterus, but at least you’re gaining a flat stomach and perky breasts.

I am frequently asked, half-jokingly, to do a tummy tuck "while I am there." Most women are surprised to hear me reply, “You don’t want me doing your tummy tuck, but I can get a plastic surgeon involved.”

If it’s something you have always wanted to do, there are actually a number of advantages to having a plastic procedure at the same time as a necessary surgery.

Cut the Cost!

By the time you add the price of the surgeon, anesthesia, operating room, recovery room, drugs and hospital stay, it’s no surprise that it’s usually only the rich and famous who can afford those little nips and tucks. But, if a plastic procedure is done at the same time as a hysterectomy, it means that the only out of pocket cost may be the surgeon’s fee and possibly the expense of additional operating room time.

Paying for cosmetic surgery is only part of the financial obstacle for women who cannot justify or afford to take time off work. But, if you are already taking time off to recover from a hysterectomy, there’s no additional lost revenue.

No One Has to Know….

It’s easy to keep your tummy tuck a secret when you’re recovering from major abdominal surgery. A facelift is a little harder to hide, so your best bet is to tell potential visitors to stay away for at least a week. If some well-meaning do-gooder does show up with a turkey noodle casserole, be prepared to give a creative reason to explain why you need to wear sunglasses and a big-brimmed hat with your pajamas.

There’s Always a Down Side

Before you schedule your facelift, tummy tuck, liposuction, breast augmentation, and oh, by the way, hysterectomy, there are some negatives to consider.

Cosmetic surgery is still surgery, and every operation has the potential for complications. By adding an additional procedure, you are also adding the potential for additional problems.

Also, it’s going to hurt more. An outpatient laparoscopic hysterectomy usually results in minimal pain. Adding a tummy tuck adds a large abdominal incision along with post-op belly pain and tightness that makes it pretty difficult to stand up straight for a few days. But, that’s simply the price you pay for a belly you can bounce a quarter off of.


11/10 2010

Having Surgery? No Enema-No Problem!

By Lauren Streicher, MD

Aug 27, 2013 EveryDay Health

Anyone who has ever had major abdominal surgery knows the drill. The bowel prep starts days before with a liquid diet, enemas and fasting. During surgery so much fluid is administered intravenously that it’s not unusual to gain weight and look like a puffball for days after. We’re not even talking about the multiple post op trips to the bathroom to pee off all that fluid. Then there is the mandatory “no food” until you pass gas rule. Even rubbery green Jell-O starts to look appealing. The prep and aftercare is sometimes far worse than the pain from the surgery.

If what we do now seems miserable, consider the experience your great grandmother would have had in the 1940’s.

Women were generally admitted to the hospital days prior to surgery. An enema the night before and the morning of surgery were mandatory. Following the enema, the patient’s abdomen, pubic region, and perineum were shaved and a douche was administered.

On the second postoperative day, the woman would be given another enema to “secure a bowel movement.” By the fourth day after surgery, it was permissible to prop the woman up in bed and offer solid food. Only on day five, was the woman allowed to sit straight up! The tenth day was when it was time to get out of bed. Women who were “worn out” by ill health or heroic work for their children were encouraged to remain “in bed for two or more weeks before attempting ambulation.” Total hospital time for an uncomplicated hysterectomy averaged three to four weeks.

Quite the contrast to most of my patients, who check in for a laparoscopic hysterectomy at 6:00 a.m., are home with a few stitches by dinner time, and back at work within two weeks.

Things have clearly come a long way since the 1940’s or even since I wrote the first edition ofThe Essential Guide to Hysterectomy. Today, even my patients who require major abdominal surgery are encouraged to get out of bed quickly and eat as soon as they have an appetite. I no longer recommend pre-operative bowel preps unless cancer or a lot of scar tissue is anticipated.

But the Mayo Clinic has taken it one step further and just released a study that proves that even with complex abdominal surgery, as in the case of advanced ovarian cancer, there is a better  and faster recovery if patients forgo the bowel prep, excessive IV fluids, and drains that are standard surgical treatment.

This is a win for everyone. Yes, the insurance companies will benefit. But more important, patients will benefit. Getting out of bed and getting home sooner means fewer blood clots, lower infection rates, and quicker overall recovery. Far from being cruel, most women are far more comfortable in their own beds, eating their own food, and peeing in the privacy of their own bathrooms.

So if you are scheduled for major surgery know that you may be able to forgo the nasty prep and you might get to enjoy that delicious hospital food faster! On the other hand, be careful what you wish for. Hospital food is generally terrible and once you are given the green light you might want to order in. The nurses are a great source of menus, of course; they know better than to eat hospital food.