If you’re preparing for a hysterectomy, you probably have a number of concerns. Among them may be the cosmetic and health effects of scarring. While most hysterectomy procedures will cause some level of internal scarring, they don’t always cause a visible scar.
During a hysterectomy, a surgeon removes all or part of your uterus. In some cases, they may remove your ovaries and cervix as well. There are several ways of doing this, which can affect the type of scar you have.
Read on to learn more about the different types of hysterectomies and the types of scars they can cause.
Abdominal hysterectomies are performed through a large abdominal incision. Typically, the surgeon makes a horizontal cut above the pubic hairline, but they may also do it vertically from the top the hairline to the belly button. Both of these incisions leave a visible scar.
Today, surgeons generally avoid using this approach in favor of less invasive techniques.
A vaginal hysterectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves removing the uterus through the vagina. Going in through the vagina, surgeons make an incision around the cervix. The uterus is then detached from the surrounding organs and pulled out through the vagina.
This approach doesn’t leave any visible scarring. Compared to abdominal hysterectomies, vaginal hysterectomies also tend to involve shorter hospital stays, lower costs, and faster recovery times.
A laparoscopic hysterectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses tiny instruments to remove the uterus through small incisions in the abdomen.
The surgeon starts by inserting a laparoscope through a small incision in the belly button. This is a thin, flexible tube that contains a video camera. It gives surgeons a clear view of internal organs without the need for a large incision.
Next, they’ll make two or three small incisions in the abdomen. They’ll use these small holes to insert small surgical tools. These incisions will leave a few small scars, each about the size of a dime.
A robotic hysterectomy uses high-definition 3-D magnification, miniature surgical instruments, and robotic technology. The robotic technology helps surgeons view, disconnect, and remove the uterus.
During a robotic hysterectomy, a surgeon will make four or five small incisions in the abdomen. These small incisions are used to insert surgical tools and thin robotic arms into the abdomen.
Robotic hysterectomies result in penny- or dime-sized scars similar to those left by laparoscopic procedures.
Your body produces scar tissue to repair damaged tissue. This is your body’s natural response to any kind of injury, including surgery. On your skin, scar tissue replaces damaged skin cells, forming a firm, raised line of thick, tough-feeling skin. But your visible scars are only one part of the picture.
Deeper inside your body, scar tissue forms to repair damage to your internal organs and other tissues. In the abdominal area, these tough bands of fibrous scar tissue are known as abdominal adhesions.
Abdominal adhesions make your internal tissues and organs stick together. Usually, the tissues inside your abdomen are slippery. This allows them to move around easily as you move your body.
Abdominal adhesions prevent this movement. In some cases, they can even pull at your intestines, twisting them up and causing painful obstructions.
But more often than not, these adhesions are harmless and don’t cause any noticeable symptoms. You can also significantly reduce your risk of large abdominal adhesions by opting for a minimally invasive procedure, such as a vaginal, laparoscopic, or robotic hysterectomy.
Scarring is a normal part of any surgery, including a hysterectomy. Depending on the type of hysterectomy you have, you can expect varying amounts of internal and external scarring.
Minimally invasive procedures cause less visible scaring and fewer internal adhesions. These approaches are also linked to shorter, less painful recoveries.
If you’re concerned about scaring, ask your doctor to go over their planned approach with you. If they don’t perform vaginal, laparoscopic, or robotic hysterectomies, ask about other doctors and facilities in your area. Major hospitals are more likely to have surgeons trained in the newest surgical techniques.