Gyn Onc Home Care after Your Laparotomy
What is laparotomy?
Laparotomy is a surgery that allows the
doctor to look at your reproductive organs
and other structures in your abdomen. It can
be used to find or treat disease. One large
incision is made. It can vary in length but it
is usually from just above the navel to a
couple inches above the pubic bone. You
will need to have anesthesia for this surgery.
Care of Incision
ξ You may shower, letting the water
run over the incisions. Pat dry.
ξ Do not apply any powders,
ointments, or creams to the incision
ξ Check your incisions daily for signs
ξ Most of the time you will have
staples in place. These help the outer
edge of the incision heal. These are
often removed 10-14 days after you
leave the hospital.
ξ Your incision is held together with
dissolvable sutures at several places
deeper in your abdomen.
Vaginal bleeding is normal after this surgery
– how much bleeding and for how long can
vary. It may be like a light period; you may
even notice some small clots. It is normal
for you to notice this for up to 6 weeks after
surgery. Please contact your surgeon’s
office if you are soaking more than a pad an
hour or if you are concerned about the
amount of bleeding,
ξ You may shower and shampoo. Do
not soak in the bathtub or swim until
cleared by your doctor.
ξ You can start driving again when
you have stopped taking narcotic
pain pills and are sure that you can
control the car quickly if needed
(about 2 weeks)
ξ Do not have sexual intercourse,
douche, use tampons, or insert
anything into the vagina for 6
weeks—this is called pelvic rest.
ξ No lifting greater than 10 pounds
for 6 weeks.
ξ Stay home the first week and relax.
ξ The second and third week you may
slowly increase your activity. Listen
to your body for cues. Avoid fatigue
and take time to rest.
ξ It is okay to walk up and down stairs
and to walk for exercise. Do not take
part in strenuous exercise that uses
your abdominal muscles (such as
Pilates, biking, or running
If you feel sick to your stomach, do not eat a
ξ Start slowly with clear liquids such
as tea, broth, or Jell-o.
ξ Add solid food to your diet as your
stomach feels better.
ξ You may want to avoid fatty foods at
first and slowly add them to your
diet. Fatty foods include fried foods,
creams, potato chips, pizza, and large
servings of gravy or butter.
How to Prevent and Treat
If you are constipated and you are having
nausea and vomiting, call the Gyn/Onc RN
triage line/After Hours line at
To Prevent Constipation
You may have trouble with bowel
movements after you go home.
ξ Drink plenty of liquids.
ξ Avoid caffeine drinks as they may
ξ Being up and about is helpful as
ξ Narcotic pain pills will cause
constipation. Take a stool softener
(Docusate Sodium/Colace ) 100 mg
twice daily and Miralax 17 gm once
daily while on narcotics. You can
buy this without a prescription at the
If you have no bowel movement within 48
hours after leaving the hospital follow these
Have you had surgery on your
bowels in the last month?
ξ I don’t know - Please contact the
Gyn/Onc RN triage line/After
Hours line at
(608) 263-1548 to review your records
ξ Yes - Increase Miralax to twice
daily dosing or take milk of
magnesia 2-4 tablespoonsful
ξ No – Take a rectal suppository, like
Dulcolax . You should have a
bowel movement within 4-6
When to call your Gyn/Onc Care
Severe abdominal pain not relieved by
Severe nausea and vomiting
Inability to tolerate food or liquid by
Pain or burning with urination
Redness or increased tenderness around
any of the incisions
Pus-like (yellow, green or thick)
drainage from the incision
If any portion of your incision opens up
Fever (by mouth) greater than 100.4°F
Excessive swelling or bleeding
Vaginal bleeding that soaks more than
one sanitary napkin in one hour.
Constipation—no bowel movement for
greater than or equal to 3 days
Increased shortness of breath
Call 911 for emergencies
If you have any questions or problems when
you are home, please call:
Gynecology/Oncology Clinic: (608) 263-
After hours and weekends, the clinic number
will connect you with the paging operator.
Ask for the gynecology resident on call.
Give your name and phone number with the
area code. The doctor will call you back.
For clinic appointments call (608)265-1700
Toll free phone number is 800-323-8942
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright 10/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#6081