Recovering From a Hysterectomy
- Chef and television personality Sandra Lee, 55, is two days post-op after undergoing a hysterectomy, and she’s already shared an update with fans.
- Lee had a hysterectomy because, during a routine appointment with her gynecologist, the doctor noticed “a change in some of my cells.” She also shared that she was supposed to have the “intense surgery” after her mastectomy a few years ago, “but I had repeatedly put it off and then Covid hit.”
- It generally takes between six and eight weeks to fully recover from a hysterectomy. But not all of that time will be spent in the hospital. (It remains unclear if Lee is still in the hospital after her operation.)
She posted to Instagram on Wednesday night, writing that the surgery was “a bit rough,” but she’s resting and on the mend. According to Page Six, Lee had the operation in Los Angeles, Calif., with her fiancé, Ben Youcef, at her side.Read More
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“Although I have a long road of recovery ahead I am grateful that this is the end of one chapter and the beginning of another, and I am so thankful to be writing this today and to my family, friends, sweet Ben and ALL OF YOU for the wonderful support.”
On Tuesday, Lee, a breast cancer survivor, shared with fans (also on Instagram) that she was having a hysterectomy procedure — a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. She said she was supposed to have the “intense surgery” after her mastectomy — surgery that removes the entire breast — a few years ago, “but I had repeatedly put it off and then Covid hit.”
Sandra Lee had a hysterectomy because, during a routine appointment with her gynecologist, the doctor noticed “a change in some of my cells.” Lee said she went for a second and third opinion; those doctors all confirmed the same.
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It isn’t exactly clear what Lee meant by “a change in some cells”; it could be that she had precancerous cells (also known as dysplasia) in her reproductive system, such as the cervix. Pre-cancer is when cells in the transformation zone don’t suddenly change into cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Instead, the normal cells of the cervix first gradually develop abnormal changes that are called pre-cancerous.
It should be noted that Lee tested negative for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. These genes help cells repair their DNA damage. Having a change, or mutation, in one of these genes increases a woman’s risk of developing breast and gynecological cancers.
These gene mutations are commonly passed down in families; if a parent carries a BRCA gene mutation, there is a 50-50 chance you could be carrying it as well. So, SurvivorNet experts recommend genetic testing immediately upon finding out if someone in your family has one of these gene mutations.
Recovering From Surgery
While Sandra Lee didn’t have ovarian cancer, a common procedure to aid in treating ovarian cancer is a hysterectomy. This surgery is also a common preventative measure (like Lee) for women who test positive for the BRCA1/2 gene mutations, or have a history of ovarian cancer in their family.
If you’ve never had surgery before, you may be nervous about what to expect after the operation is over. How much pain will you be in? When can you get up and walk? When will you start to feel better? When will your recovery be complete?
So, you may be surprised to learn that recovery from this surgery can happen much more quickly than you think. It generally takes between six and eight weeks to fully recover from a hysterectomy. But not all of that time will be spent in the hospital. (It remains unclear if Lee is still in the hospital after her operation.)
“With modern medicine, with programs that we call ERAS, which are enhanced recovery programs, a lot of our patients even when they’ve had radical operations are home and out of the hospital within five to seven days,” Dr. Elizabeth Jewell, a gynecologic surgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet.
“During that time (the first week in the hospital), we try to get patients up and moving very quickly,” Dr. Kimberly Levinson, director of Johns Hopkins Gynecologic Oncology at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, told us.
“We know that getting patients out of bed, getting them moving, helps them recover more quickly. And depending on how extensive the surgery was, that may be as early as the day after surgery,” she added.
The rest of the timeline, according to Dr. Levinson:
- By weeks three and four, most patients are beginning to feel better.
- By the fifth and sixth weeks, there may still be some fatigue. And at this point, doctors are thinking about how well the patients are rebounding.
- After six to eight weeks, recovery is usually complete.
Sandra Lee’s Cancer Battle
Sandra Lee was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in 2015.
She would later reveal that she had just finished a photoshoot for People after making the annual “Most Beautiful People List” when her doctor called to say she had ductal carcinoma in situ, which means the cancer hasn’t spread outside the milk duct of the breast
According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 5 new breast cancers are DCIS. Nearly all women with this early stage of breast cancer can be cured.
Lee was able to catch the disease while there were still several treatment options. Once she had assessed the possible risks and chances of the disease returning, she opted to have both a lumpectomy — surgery to remove cancer or other abnormal tissue from the breast — and a double mastectomy.
Additionally, because her cancer was in its early stage and she had surgery, she didn’t have to have chemotherapy or radiation treatments afterward.
Lee didn’t share the news until after the lumpectomy was complete and she was deemed cancer-free. She then announced that she had breast cancer and was going to have a double mastectomy procedure.
Sandra Lee unfortunately had complications with her surgery that led to an infection. But in 2020, she finished her breast reconstruction.
Contributing: SurvivorNet staff reports