Can I Get a Flat Stomach After a Hysterectomy?


question-icon-newI have been told by friends that because I had a hysterectomy that I will not be able to obtain a flat stomach as they cut the muscles for this surgical procedure. Is this true?

answer-icon-newMany people complain about weight gain after a hysterectomy, attributing it to the surgical procedure. Whether your stomach appears flabby after your hysterectomy may depend on the type of hysterectomy you needed and surgical technique used to perform it. The surgeon may have performed the hysterectomy entirely through the vagina, known as a Total Vaginal Hysterectomy or TVH. He may have made small incisions with the assistance of a laparoscope to remove the uterus and cervix. In this case, he may not have incised abdominal muscles that would leave a scar.

If the hysterectomy was performed by cutting abdominal muscles to remove the uterus, he would have made an incision about eight inches long in the lower abdomen or stomach area. An abdominal hysterectomy would leave a scar that might make your stomach appear flabby and looking a little like a pouch.

Hysterectomies can be a little difficult for women to cope with because they usually take place at the time a woman’s metabolism begins to slow down. This often happens in mid-life, when women may develop issues like cervical cancer or uterine fibroids that cause pain and other problems.

hysterectomy-flat-stomachIt can be hard to completely flatten the stomach after a hysterectomy, but steps can still be taken to reduce the stomach’s annoying, flabby appearance. You might have water retention after the procedure, which can cause your stomach to appear bloated. Drinking more water keeps you hydrated. It reduces bloating in the stomach as well.

Make sure your diet is balanced with an adequate amount of fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Modify the amount of food you eat, especially since the metabolism tends to slow down after a hysterectomy. Avoid gas-producing foods like baked beans, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts so as not to aggravate the bloating you may experience after the surgery.

Eat more high fiber foods, but introduce them into your diet slowly. Oatmeal and wheat bread are excellent sources of fiber, but introducing them too quickly might cause problems like gas production. Adding them gradually into your diet allows your body to adapt to the fiber and begin digesting them as quickly as possible so that your stomach does not get bloated.

In regards to exercise, Yoga and other abdominal exercises help to strengthen the core muscles and tighten up the stomach. Try using several different exercises to hit a range of areas in the midsection. Here are a few recommended ones to try out:

For the traditional crunch, lay down on a mat, bend your knees and cross your arms in front of your chest. Slowly lift your shoulders towards the ceiling and crunch up using your abs. If crunches are not for you, schedule a daily walk to get some good cardio exercise in. A 45-60 minute walk every day helps to tone up your lower body and burn calories.

In addition, wearing a belly or compression wrap can help to get your stomach back to pre-hysterectomy shape. Girdles can help to reduce the appearance of flabbiness, as they contain lycra that provides extra abdominal support. A hysterectomy may make you seem overweight and flabby, but changes to your lifestyle can help to reduce body fat and flatten your stomach.

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    Thank you so much for this information. I’m having a full hysterectomy in two weeks and I’m scared but ready to have the procedure. I had no idea that so much would be necessary in making a full recovery. Again, thank you so much for educating people such as myself who are facing this type of surgical procedure. Much appreciated!

    • ShapeFit

      Hi Sharon – It’s always important for females who have had a hysterectomy to always get the advice from their doctor before starting any type of fitness program, especially when it involves training the abdominal area directly.

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    I had a total abdominal hysterectomy. It has been two years now, but my stomach is still flabby. I have to wear a girdle all the time now.

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    I have always had a flat tummy and now I have a horrific pooch. I’m currently on a diet and I’m going to the gym. It’s really affecting my confidence and love life. I feel disgusting and I can’t bear my husband of 21 plus years to see me so embarrassed by my appearance now.

    • ShapeFit

      Hi Beth – Stay focused with your diet and workout regimen. It didn’t take you a few weeks to add size to your stomach, so it’s not going to be gone in a few weeks either. Try to focus on a 90 day target of seeing results and stick with your diet and exercise game plan.

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      Why are you embarrassed? Your husband of over 20 years is with you for more than your physical appearance. We all go through body changes but having someone there with us through those changes is most important. I’m sure he would rather look at you alive with a pouch then you dead without one. Don’t allow your imperfect views of physical expectations be put on someone whose has flawless views of your perfection.

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    Broken hearted on

    I had mine in 2012, due to a cyst. I eat right follow all the “rules” and still have the pouch. My Dr. told me they have literally cut my stomach muscles in half. There is no amount of crunches that can be done to repair this! Believe me I’ve tried. Then in 2013 I contracted fibromyalgia and 4 other disorders. The only way to get rid of this is through additional costly procedures. Once the muscles are cut there is no way of strengthening them. I hated my pouch prior to this procedure, I worked out 3 times a week and had a flat stomach. Also, like me, many women are on additional medications that cause us to gain weight. I’m not trying to be negative, I’m just trying to shed a little light on the subject. I will be 47 years old in May of 2017 which is 5 years after the surgery and I still have the dreaded pouch!

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      Oh no, now I understand why the pouch is still there. I’m almost 2 years into my training and it hasn’t changed. I’m still doing weight training and eating healthy. I’ve also noted after doing certain exercises, like leg extensions, that my stomach is very sensitive and bloated. This is really depressing at times!

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      Thank you! I had surgery many years ago and the doctor told me he had to cut out my stomach muscle. I keep wondering why I am the slowest hiker and cyclist. Just recently I remembered my doctor telling me this. I am guessing that since my “core” muscle was cut, that it affects my strength and speed. Your post actually made me feel better. I would get depressed wondering why I am the slowest no matter how hard I try. I should be happy that at least I can hike and bike, but seriously, when everyone passes you by and you are always in last place all the time, it is depressing. Thank you for sharing your story.

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        I had a hysterectomy when I was 20 I am now 33 and still have a horrible pooch it doesn’t matter what I do it’s still there! The only cure for this really is to come to terms with it so to move on with a happy healthy life, my biggest struggle was to come to terms with the fact I would never have children and that’s something that I have only just accepted recently due to having an amazing partner who I met a year after my surgery I thank god every day for blessing me with this man! I hope in time anyone else struggling here will get to a happier place soon!

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    Paula A Kaiser on

    I would like to hear what “broken hearted” can do to help her situation with her pooch. I just turned 62 in March and I had a full stomach hysterectomy in 1987. I am 5’1″ weigh 115 pounds. With age, the pooch, at least mine, has gotten larger. I’m a tiny 62 year old woman who looks 6-8 months pregnant. I’ve wondered about surgery to fix it. Can they? Like most women, I’m embarrassed, humiliated and will not be completely naked in front of my husband. I’ve done girdles and Spanx. Summer dresses, form fitting clothes and swimsuits are out! It’s not just toning for us women, it is actually severed muscles!

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      Your situation sounds exactly like mine. I had my surgery many moons ago, and I have exercised and tried all I can to reduce my pooch. I hate it, as it jiggles in halves. It is embarrassing! I too want to know about any surgery that can repair the muscles there, or else plastic surgery might be the answer. Have you found anything out?

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    Kathy Reilly on

    I also had an abdominal hysterectomy nine years ago and I exercise regularly. I would love to be thinner, but it’s important for the ladies out there to remember to embrace your bodies and love yourselves! Don’t be ashamed of something you may not be able to control. Trust me, your husbands or significant others love you regardless and would most definitely love to see you naked! So, take time to love yourself for who and what you are! Relax, life is short 🙂

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      Thanks for the positive encouragement. I’m having a full hysterectomy tomorrow and was wondering how my body would function afterwards.

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    Thank you all for sharing your own experiences, I no longer feel alone! I had an abdominal hysterectomy 18 months ago. I’m 45 years old and have put on almost a stone and a half. I go to the gym regularly and try to eat well, but my metabolism has definitely slowed down a lot! I feel as though my shape has totally altered and has changed from an hourglass shape to a lumpy bubble. Think it’s time to fully embrace high waisted 50’s knickers!

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    I love all of your stories! My total hysterectomy is coming up next month. All of my fears are gone and I’m happy to be part of such strong and healthy women. God bless you and your families 🙂

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    The only advice I can give anyone about having an abdominal hysterectomy is make sure you fully research the pro’s and con’s before you decide it’s best for you. I had my procedure 15 months ago. Before the operation, I would say I had a once in a blue moon bad back. As soon as I was back on my feet after the operation I have had a bad back ever since. The doctors have said it’s a coincidence, but I think the cutting of the abdominal muscles has weakened my support of the spine. So, please be sure to only have the operation if it’s really the only option you have.

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      I’m 52 and I totally agree. Only have the procedure if it’s your only option. I had mine because of heavy periods and cyst. I have come to except the fact that I’m stuck with a flabby tummy and if he does not like it, then he (significant other) can hit the door.

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        I had my hysterectomy just this past Friday and everything turned out fine. Afterwards, my body seemed to cooperate with whatever is expected after a hysterectomy other than the pain and trying to find a comfortable position. I am okay but still have the “pooch”. It’s going to be a little depressing at first, but once you realize to focus on health before looks, you will eventually come to terms that you made the right decision in getting the hysterectomy. Peace, love and blessings to you! We are all beautiful woman 🙂

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    I had a TAH surgery in 2015 (Total Abdominal Hysterectomy). I was a size 4 at a height of 5’7″. Not any more. Having the stomach muscles cut has absolutely given me a pooch. I had 25 staples up and down. The scar is okay, but it’s slightly indented. I had this surgery unexpectedly and it saved my life. It has been 3 years since the surgery. My tummy will never be flat again, and I’m okay with that (sometimes). Be kind to yourselves. Best wishes!

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      I’m due to have a hysterectomy in 5 weeks and I’ve always prided myself in having a flat stomach. My core is the best part so after reading all this, I’m dreading it! I don’t know until I go under whether it will be keyhole or not. Has anyone found they have regained their stomach shape after the surgery? I’m getting so depressed about it! I have put it off for 12 months but have pre-cancer cells, so I’ve been told I must have it. Any support would be greatly appreciated! Thanks and good luck to everyone else 🙂

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        How did you do? I bet you still look great. I had three c-sections cutting every muscle, but I was fit. If you are in shape to begin with, my guess is you still look great.

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        I’ve always been considered slim. I had a hysterectomy over 4 years ago. The day AFTER the hysterectomy I looked pregnant and gained 28 lbs…..all in the stomach under my breasts. I lost some weight; however, it turned to loose flab over my pubic area. I’m disgusted. I always had a sense of ‘vanity’ (not in a bad way, just trying to look my best). I canNOT wear belts any longer, or thongs which I was much more comfortable in… I’m wearing regular panties and don’t like it. I miss wearing a t-shirt, jeans, belt and a blazer. I will NEVER wear a bathing suit again. The DAY AFTER my stomach was totally changed. The doctor never told me about this prior to the surgery; however, I needed it. Still disgusted, though! I’m sorry. I also had Pre-Cancer cells and all my check-ups have been great other than this distended stomach. Praying you healed well. Diane

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    Jeannette Thompson on

    It’s been over 30 years since my hysterectomy. I still have a flabby tummy despite exercising. Glad I now know the reason for it. I suffer from fibromyalgia along with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Nothing seems to work, so I just have to put up with it.

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      Lisa Blackburn on

      I have been stressing over this for 30 years. It makes me feel better to know that I’m not alone. I thought it was my fault.

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    I’m 5 months into this recovery and I have good days and bad ones. A quick 30-minute workout gives me energy and keeps the bloating down. If I take a week off, I feel sick, bloated, warm and nauseous, which sucks. My eating habits are changing with nothing carbonated and gassy. Those foods hurt my belly. I might have a tummy tuck in the near future. Hopefully, I will shed 20 pounds, but right now I can’t seem to lose anything. Do you think a Keto diet will work? Can anyone suggest how to drop weight after this surgery? I’m struggling.

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    I had a hysterectomy with oophorectomy 2 weeks ago. I only have 1 ovary left, the rest is gone. I still have a flabby paunch, looks like I’m a few months preggers and it’s upsetting. yes! I’ve heard that a few people have lost weight after, however, not me. I’ve had 4 pregnancies and 3 c-sections and I had the same issues after. After 4 weeks of the c-sections, I used tummy wraps which helped to pull my tummy in a bit, waiting for 2 more weeks until my tummy did not feel sore anymore to try that again. My darlings, I have realized that our bodies go through quite a beating afterwards, the bowels are also affected, with constipation and cramping. However, everyone I have met that has had one says the quality of life has really improved. We all obviously needed to have it done for very good reason, so let’s look forward to pain free, heavy period free days.. all the best with recovery 🙂

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      Sounds like I had my abdominal hysterectomy the same week that you did. I had a 7.75 pound cyst removed and have officially dropped 2 dress sizes. I have the flabby pouch, but no longer look 7 months pregnant so although I am working to get rid of the pouch, it doesn’t depress me. I’ve always wore some sort of compression tank so wearing one now is not an issue. Like you, my stomach is a bit sensitive. But as long as I don’t overeat its usually fine. Again, it’s much easier to deal with than the heavy periods and constant cramps. I asked my doctor if he was going to cut my abdominal muscles and he said he was just going to move them. Did I misunderstand or do they always cut them? The incision went from my groin to above my belly button.

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        Patricia Cookeygam on

        Hi Hope – I am 3 months into a TAH (total abdominal hysterectomy) and BOS which is the removal of my ovaries though I was already menopausal when the procedure was done. Like you, I had a neat incision from my belly button to the top of my pelvic bone. I’ve healed beautiful so far, so that is good. I do wear compression belts also known as girdles for now. Though I noticed I lost an inch around my hips only and not my bum which is strange. My doctor says I will regain it. I hope so. Best of luck!

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      My bowels were affected as well. I now have rectocile (I was told if I bare down too hard my bowels will slip through my vagina)! So, in turn, being cautious ‘not’ to bare down, I’m constipated and need glycerin suppositories to be able to have a BM. What can I say?

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    My doctor said they didn’t cut mine, they spread them apart. Still hurt pretty bad. I am 2 weeks post surgery, and it’s a slow recovery for sure. I think my tummy looks flatter now than before the surgery. I have a lot of scar tissue and a bit of swelling still. I think everyone needs to be more concerned and happy with their health (not appearance). Your loved ones love you no matter what your tummy looks like 🙂

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    I had a total hysterectomy in June of 2018 and have put loads of weight on. My stomach looks like I’m 6 months pregnant and I feel depressed!

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    I had a basketball sized fibroid tumor that led to a hysterectomy (uterus and cervix) in December, 2015. I had been gaining unusual amounts of weight for the past few years, doing everything and even seeing a dietitian and nutritionist at a well respected University hospital where I was told things like. “Well you are in your 40s and this is just part of it” to “You have to be lying on your food logs and exercise logs”. I was sent to specialist after specialist and finally the University wanted to blood transfuse me because my hemoglobin was a 3.5. I was on 20 different medications (I was taking no meds just a couple years prior). I sat down with my primary care doctor and said “I am going off this medication, what can I stop today?” It took 6 months from then to find the fibroid. I am a person who goes to all my annuals and have a yearly physical. I was cut from my pubic bone to up and around my belly button about 2 inches to remove a 23 cm perfectly round basketball-sized fibroid. The doctors commented that I had ” Gorgeous organs” and the other said “the cleanest organs” he had ever seen that I had no fat even in my liver. The dust settled, I had gained 80 pounds, of which I have lost only 20. There is no amount of exercise that will get that back. I wear Spanx to keep it in since it’s so loose and flabby. I recently started doing a protein-type diet as that helped me lose 20 pounds. This includes lean protein, veggies and fruit. It’s not a huge adjustment as it was close to how I ate before, but certain foods I cannot have or it makes my stomach bloat and the back of my scar hurt. Cheese, even good cheese does not work well along with all bread (I used to eat the Oatnut and wheat berry type breads). Too many salads or veggies need to be watched. A cup of steamed veggies and 2 cups of salad is it. Any more and it hurts my scar. I want to hire a personal trainer, but do not feel confident in the advice I will get since I don’t want it to hurt me any more. Now, I am a little afraid to lose the stomach since it holds my boobs up 🙂 Best of luck to everyone! I wish there was someone in the exercise world to address this.

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    I had a hysterectomy 9 months ago. Although it helped with a lot of my issues, I couldn’t start exercising, much less work on the pooch, until I started pelvic physical therapy. It sounds ridiculous, but it really is leading to significant improvement.

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      I had a full hysterectomy 8 years ago, in my 40’s. I had two large grapefruit fibroid tumors, one just clinging onto my lower intestine. I’ve always been very lean, but now I feel my abdomen has taken over my body! Crunches, pelvic exercises , etc. and the flabby monster still remains, along with occasional bloating, ugh! On the other hand, so far I have my health, thank God and the doctors! I may not feel as sexy as I once did, but we as women are all sexy ❤️

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    Just wondering if anyone has had a hysterectomy as a solution to an enlarged belly due to a huge (20+ cm) benign fibroid. I have the occasional heavy period but no pain, other than discomfort while sleeping from the size of my abdomen. I’m seriously considering the procedure but feel quite daunted from all the comments I’m reading here since it doesn’t seem that the belly size will diminish, but rather worsen! I was told by several doctors I can either ‘live with it’ or have a hysterectomy but I’m beginning to wonder if I will just be trading in one set of issues for another.

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      I just had an open hysterectomy January 27 due to multiple large fibroids. The doctor described the size of what he removed as, “1 1/2 footballs.” Yep! I had anemia, low vitamin D – and I’m estrogen dominant. I had gained about 30 lbs. The size and pressure from the fibroids contorted my ziphoid and (just as if I’d been pregnant with a large baby) I had diastasis recti. My stomach was the size of a full-term pregnancy. My abs were retracted, not cut in surgery. I went to a doctor who is also an oncologist, so he is accustomed to removing large tumors. He minimized the (vertical) length of my scar. Out of the 4 consults, 2 of them wanted to cut me from my ziphoid to my public bone. He was one of the two who promised a gradual cut. They actually used my pedunculated fibroids as “handles” to pull out the mass, so my scar only goes to about 2 inches above my navel. I still have ovaries, BUT abdominal surgery will make your hormones fluctuate – even if only temporarily. This is true for both sexes. You may have a drop or gain in weight that you can’t control for a variety of reasons. I went to my primary and demanded a HORMONE PANEL from the 20-something nurse practitioner who had suggested that my “food portions” were my problem (even though I told her of my background as a personal trainer). I wish every woman on EARTH would request a hormone panel. Due to my estrogen dominance, my estrogen receptors hijack my freely available testosterone (this was verified by my high SHBG – Sex Hormone Binding Globulin) level. Estrogen dominance (often caused by the pill, especially if you’ve been on it more than 5 years) can also hijack thyroid hormone, making someone suffer from subclinical hypothyroidism in spite of having normal thyroid numbers on paper. My total testosterone was already low, but you need freely available testosterone to burn fat and gain muscle mass – which burns fat. Testosterone feeds on fat/cholesterol. The hormonal belly fat that women tend to put on? Normal testosterone levels can burn it off. I am premenopausal and am now on BIOIDENTICAL hormone therapy. I am on testosterone cream and progesterone pills. I lost 8 lbs. in the first 18 days – 16 total pounds in 8 weeks. My estrogen is not low. The Bottom line? You can’t lose weight when you’re hormones are out of balance. You can’t lose weight when you don’t sleep. I highly suggest you get a hormone panel. I completed 8 weeks of PT to resolve my diastasis recti. The 27-year-old therapist was astounded by my progress. I lost nearly 10 cm from around my waist in 8 weeks. Mind you, I’m on a near-keto diet (because sugar and carbs are not my friends). To be clear, I count calories and MACROS. I’m on a 40/40/20 macro split: 40% Protein, 40% healthy fats, 20% Carbs. I engage in 5-6 workouts per week. I actually had to decrease my frequency and intensity to prevent LOSING muscle as we find the right hormone balance for me. Thankfully, progesterone has two fantastic upsides. It has a diuretic effect for many AND it helps with sleep. In fact it’s recommended that you take it at night because it truly makes most people drowsy. It takes me out like an elephant tranquilizer. Our bodies NEED 7-8 ours of sleep for our hormones (or hormone therapy) to work efficiently. I can literally see the difference in my body when I’ve had a full 8 hours. Flatter belly, less water retention, facilitated weight loss. For me, the surgery was necessary. My fibroids were so big and plentiful. They were PALPABLE. Seriously! It’s been life-changing, but I’ve really had to push my docs to address the diastasis recti (which can cause back pain, due to the weakness in the core) and the hormonal imbalance that truly facilitates the development of HORMONAL lower belly fat. Doctors act as if they don’t know how our hormones get out of whack. They absolutely know that they’re prescribing the culprits – that we’re getting excess phytoestrogens from water, the plastic that water is bottled in, hormones injected into chicken, beef, pork. They know that visceral belly fat decreases our lifespan, but they get no nutritional training and med school and they don’t retain much of the knowledge of hormones they got in med school. Some OBGYNs obtain a certification as a hormone specialist. That’s who you need to see. There are women’s clinics – often affiliated with urology practices that deal with women sexual and hormonal issues. These clinics often house hormone specialist. I know this is a lot, but if I could should it from the rooftops I WOULD. Women get the short end of the stick. We’ve got to help each other. I’m no doctor, but I know what questions to ask one – and when to find a new one when they ignore my concerns about my physical and emotional well-being. Best, ~T

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    I just had my uterus and Fallopian tubes taken out exactly two weeks ago and it’s horrible. I am 5’4″ and normally weigh 115 pounds. Right now my stomach is huge which is usually flat. My best asset is my tiny waist and it is gone! I look 6 months pregnant and feel it. I’m so mad I did this. I wish I would have know and been prepared!

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    I had an awful experience with my hysterectomy, which was done on 8/15/2019. I had fibroids, one large (11+cm) and two smaller ones removed, along with my tubes and cervix (my ovaries remain). Unfortunately, I had a doctor with poor technique and little regard for what my concerns were with the procedure. I had several complications and now, over a year later, am still trying to resolve the constant pain I am experiencing as well as what I call a “dead stomach”. I had a completely flat and defined abdomen prior, now I have a bulge on one side of the pooch and the incision off to one side and a raised purple gash of a scar. I also have pain which radiates all around this bulging area. I am very fit and eat well and this constant pain and disfigurement has made life horrible. It is an everyday struggle. Once this happened, the doctors are very hands off. They do not seem to want to address the bulge and treatment for pelvic therapy and injections into nerves is the only options. What about the bulge? How about the pain? It seems that you are left with having to live with the results of what in no way, shape or form were explained to me or I would have likely reconsidered. I feel awful, look awful and it has ruined my life!

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