What is open oophorectomy?

Open Oophorectomy
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Open oophorectomy: Overview

Oophorectomy (say "oh-uh-fuh-REK-tuh-mee") is a type of surgery. It removes one, both, or part of your ovaries. Your ovaries store and release eggs, which can develop into embryos if fertilized by sperm. They also make sex hormones.

This surgery can be done for many reasons. Your doctor may want to look for or remove ovarian growths or cancer. Sometimes the uterus and ovaries are taken out at the same time. And in some cases, one or both of the fallopian tubes are removed too.

You will be asleep during the surgery. To do the surgery, the doctor makes a cut in your belly. This cut is called an incision. Then the doctor removes one or both of your ovaries and any growths that are seen. Next, the doctor closes the incision with stitches. The incision leaves a scar that fades over time.

Tissue samples from any growths that are found will be sent to a lab to check for cancer. This is called a biopsy.

Most people go home 2 to 3 days after surgery. You can expect to feel better each day. But you will probably need about 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover.

If both ovaries are removed, you can only get pregnant with help from a medical procedure. If you want to use your eggs for a possible pregnancy in the future, talk to your doctor about your options.

How can you care for yourself after an open oophorectomy?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start 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 strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, a vacuum cleaner, or a child.
  • Hold a pillow over your incisions when you cough or take deep breaths. This will support your belly and decrease your pain.
  • Do breathing exercises at home as instructed by your doctor. This will help prevent pneumonia.
  • You will probably need to take some time off from work while you recover. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.

Diet

  • 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.

Medicines

  • 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.
  • 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, take an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines contain acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • 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.

Incision care

  • 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. Or follow your doctor's instructions for removing the tape.
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.

Other instructions

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid anything that puts pressure on your belly, such as a girdle, for a few weeks.
  • You may want to use a heating pad on your belly to help with pain.

How do you prepare for an open oophorectomy?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don’t have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It’s a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

After open oophorectomy: Overview

Open oophorectomy is surgery to remove one, both, or part of your ovaries. Your doctor made a cut (incision) in your lower belly to do this.

After surgery, you can expect to feel better and stronger each day. But you may need pain medicine for a week or two. You may get tired easily or have less energy than usual. This may last for several weeks after surgery. You will probably notice that your belly is swollen and puffy. This is common. The swelling will take several weeks to go down. You may take 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover. It's important to avoid lifting while you are recovering so that you can heal.

If you had both ovaries removed, you will start menopause if you haven't already started it. Your doctor may prescribe you hormone therapy.

What happens on the day of your open oophorectomy?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.

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