Recovery from Ovarian Cyst Removal Surgery

Sometimes, depending on the size, type and location of an ovarian cyst, your doctor will request that it be surgically removed. Usually, a cyst will be removed if it is cancerous, or suspected to be cancerous, larger than two inches in diameter, solid or filled with debris or irregularly shaped. If your ovarian cyst is causing pain, is ruptured or has caused your ovary to twist, it will also need to be surgically removed. The likelihood of an ovarian cyst becoming cancerous greatly increases with age, so if you are an older patient, you are more likely to require surgery to remove your ovarian cyst.

As removal of a cyst is a surgical procedure, there are some risks involved. Your risk of complications following surgery will be greater if you are overweight, smoke, drink excessive amounts of alcohol or use illicit or some prescription medications. If you are pregnant, your risk of complication is also higher. Endometriosis and previous abdominal surgery heighten the risk of complication. Prior to your surgery, your doctor will discuss any risk factors you have that make surgical complications more likely.

It is important to discuss with your doctor before the surgery exactly how the procedure will occur and what action the doctor will take in certain scenarios. During the surgery, the tissue that is removed from your ovary will be taken to the laboratory and checked to see if it is cancerous. The presence of cancer will make it more likely that you will need to have one or both of your ovaries removed. It is obviously important that you discuss with your doctor this option before the surgery, as it has serious implications for your future fertility, and also for your health.

The type of surgery you have will determine your recovery. Often, the cyst can be removed using a laparoscope, which is a thin, lighted tube. During a laparoscopy, a very small incision is made in the lower abdomen, near your belly button. The doctor inserts the laparoscope through this incision, and the abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas to make visualization of your internal organs easier. Once the cyst has been located using the laparoscope, two more small incisions in the abdomen are made. The surgeon uses these to insert instruments. Once removal of the cyst and, in some instances the ovary, is complete, the incisions are closed using clamps or stitches.

Sometimes, a classic open-abdomen operation is necessary for ovarian cyst removal. During this procedure, an incision is made in the abdomen and the abdominal muscles are separated to allow surgeons access to the underlying organs. Blood vessels that supply the ovaries will be clamped and tied, and the cyst is then surgically removed. Once the removal of the cyst and/or ovaries is complete, the incision can be closed.

Laparoscopy is obviously a much less physically traumatic procedure and your recovery will be speedier if this is the procedure used to remove your ovarian cyst. It is likely that you will experience abdominal pain for three or four days after a laparoscopy, but for seven to ten days if you have had traditional abdominal surgery.

In the days following either operation, there will be certain things you cannot do and certain things you must do for your post-operative care. It is recommended that you move and elevate your legs whilst you are in bed, to protect against blood clots. Your doctor will recommend that after seven days, you stop taking prescription pain medication, as post-operative pain is usually manageable after this time with non-prescription drugs. Strenuous activity should be avoided for two weeks after laparoscopy and for up to six weeks after an open surgical procedure. You will need to abstain from sexual activity, and refrain from using tampons and douching until directed by your doctor. Normally these practices can be resumed approximately two weeks after surgery. It will be important to continue to bath and shower as normal, taking special care whilst washing the incision area. Mild soaps are recommended during the healing process. You can resume your work and normal daily activities as soon as you feel capable, but remember to ease yourself slowly into your normal routine. Surgery takes a toll on your body and you will need to give your body the time it needs to properly recover.