Health Team

New hysterectomy procedure doesn't leave scar

Posted November 12, 2009
Updated November 16, 2009

— Nearly a third of women in the United States have a hysterectomy by age 60. Doctors have a developed a new surgical method they say doesn't leave a scar.

The most common method for a hysterectomy is open surgery through a horizontal incision in the abdomen. Robotic and laparoscopic surgery work through several small incisions.

Surgery uses 'natural scar' Surgery uses 'natural scar'

The procedures leave scars similar to a Ceasarean section. Additionally, the bigger an incision is or the greater the number of incisions, the longer recovery time is – up to six weeks after open, abdominal surgery.

Jennifer Russo, 36, needed a hysterectomy for persistent vaginal bleeding. Medications and cryoblation, or freezing uterine tissue, hadn't helped her.

Russo, though, thought she couldn't afford the long recovery time.

"I would have just suffered through it," she said. "I don't have six weeks to recuperate. And with having two boys, I would never put that kind of burden on my family."

Then, Russo met gynecological surgeon Dr. Craig Sobelewski. He offered to use a new technique, working through a small, hidden incision.

"It's a hidden scar, and it's frequently referred to as a scarless procedure, because it uses a natural scar, namely the belly button," described Sobelewski, who practices at Duke University Medical Center.

The single incision approach is made possible with two tools – first, a special sponge. "(The) lower portion fits through the incision into the abdomen, and then it gets compressed inside that 1-inch incision," Sobelewski said.

Through the plastic channels in the holes of the sponge, doctors insert special laparoscopes that can bend and reach into the uterus.

"By angulating the instrument, we can now get around the corners and access important structures," Sobelewski said.

The uterine tissue is removed vaginally.

Sobelewski told Russo she would have one overnight stay in the hospital and be back to normal in two weeks, rather than six.

"And it was true," Russ said. "Besides my belly button being a little bit tender, nothing else hurt."

The scarless procedure is relatively new, so it's in limited use. Sobelewski said he believes it will become more widely available around the country – and even might become the preferred method of doing hysterectomies.


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  • lbnblakesmom Nov 13, 2009

    I had my hysterectomy 8 years ago. It was done vaginally, with no incision at all. I spent 2 nights in the hospital and was back to work the next week. I know not every woman will recover as well as I did, and I know that being only 30 helped, too, but I have never once regretted the decision to have it done.

  • DLG Nov 13, 2009

    Nora-in spite of the bad consequences of the hysterectomy, there is a good side of the hysterectomy that most women have experienced. I had one done this year, and it was the best thing that ever happened. I had a discussion w/ my doctor to have the new surgerical procedure, but due to my size, I was not able to do it. Before the surgery, I suffered heavy periods and back pain from the cramps. I had 8 tumors that was causing discomfort. After the surgery, I feel great! The doctor did discuss w/ me about the side effects which you have noted, but not all women experience these effects. I know that Jennifer Russo, myself and countless others who had the surgery is glad they did it for their health.

  • nora180 Nov 12, 2009

    It's important to talk about the consequences of hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus, a reproductive, sexual, hormone responsive organ that supports the bladder and bowel. Whether the surgery is performed abdominally, vaginally, or laparoscopically a hormone responsive sex organ is removed, the vagina is shortened, and there is a loss of support to the bladder and bowel. Women who experienced uterine orgasm before the surgery will not experience it after the uterus is removed.

    When the uterus only is removed women have three times greater incidence of cardiovascular disease than women with an intact uterus. When the ovaries are removed the incidence seven times greater.

    Read the new book THE H WORD, and find out what the medical literature documents about the well-known consequences, and what women report about the effects of hysterectomy on their bodies, their health and their lives, and read the Adverse Effects Data at