You had pelvic prolapse surgery. This surgery put your organ back in place. It also adds support to your muscles.
You can expect to feel better and stronger each day. But you may get tired quickly and need pain medicine for a week or two. After a laparoscopy, you may have shoulder pain. This is caused by the air your doctor put in your belly to help see your organs better. The pain may last for a day or two. You may need about 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover from open surgery and 1 to 2 weeks to recover from laparoscopic surgery or vaginal surgery.
It is important to avoid heavy lifting while you are recovering, so that your incision can heal.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
- Try to walk each day. Start out by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent blood clots, pneumonia, and constipation.
- Avoid lifting anything that will make you strain—which includes lifting a child, a vacuum, or grocery bags—for about 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
- Avoid strenuous activities, such as biking, jogging, weightlifting, and aerobic exercise, for about 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
- You may shower. Pat the incision dry when you are done. Do not take a bath for the first week after surgery or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
- You may have some light vaginal bleeding. Wear sanitary pads if needed. Do not douche or use tampons.
- Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
- You will probably need to take 2 to 4 weeks off work for open surgery and 1 week off for laparoscopic surgery or vaginal surgery. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
- Ask your doctor when it is okay to have sex. And do not place anything in your vagina for 6 weeks or until your doctor tells you it's okay.
- You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
- Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
- You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fiber supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also get instructions about taking any new medicines.
- If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
- Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- Store your prescription pain medicines where no one else can get to them. When you are done using them, dispose of them quickly and safely. Your local pharmacy or hospital may have a drop-off site.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
- Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor tells you not to).
- Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
- If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
- If you have strips of tape on the cut (incision) the doctor made, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
- Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water and pat it dry.
- Keep the area clean and dry. You may cover it with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
- If you go home with a urinary catheter, follow your doctor's instructions on catheter care.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid anything that puts pressure on your belly, such as a girdle, for a few weeks.
- Your doctor may recommend pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises, which tighten and strengthen pelvic muscles, once you have completely healed. (If doing these exercises causes pain, stop doing them and talk with your doctor.) To do Kegel exercises:
- Squeeze your muscles as if you were trying not to pass gas. Or squeeze your muscles as if you were stopping the flow of urine. Your belly, legs, and buttocks shouldn't move.
- Hold the squeeze for 3 seconds, then relax for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Start with 3 seconds, then add 1 second each week until you are able to squeeze for 10 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise 10 times a session. Do 3 to 8 sessions a day.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks one or more pads in an hour, or you have large clots.
- You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
- You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
- You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
- Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage over your incision.
- You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad.
- You have signs of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the incision.
- Pus draining from the incision.
- A fever.
- You cannot pass stools or gas.
- You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called deep vein thrombosis), such as:
- Pain in your calf, back of knee, thigh, or groin.
- Redness and swelling in your leg.
- You have symptoms of a urinary tract infection. These may include:
- Pain or burning when you urinate.
- A frequent need to urinate without being able to pass much urine.
- Pain in the flank, which is just below the rib cage and above the waist on either side of the back.
- Blood in your urine.
- A fever.
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter J651 in the search box to learn more about "Pelvic Prolapse: What to Expect at Home".
Current as of: August 2, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine