Karen Pharis’ active lifestyle became noticeably restricted 18 months ago. The 45-year-old lost her stamina for rigorous tennis, nor was she able to prepare patients for surgery in her job as a nurse. “For two days out of every month my activities were interrupted,” she says. “The bleeding was an inconvenience but more than that, at time, it was actually a hindrance to my busy schedule.”
During an annual checkup, she mentioned her atypical menstrual bleeding, prompting her doctor to order an ultrasound. It revealed she had fibroid tumors. Pharis was given options to monitor her condition or have a minimally invasive hysterectomy, a relatively new advancement in medicine.
“For years we made big incisions to take out the uterus,” says John D. Bertrand M.D., director of minimally invasive surgery at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. “Recovery time involved a two-to-four-night hospital stay with a six-to-eight-week period of bed rest at home.”
According to Bertrand, minimally invasive procedures have revolutionized gynecological surgery. A hysterectomy is now a day surgery with one to tow weeks of recovery time at home and requires only one to three tiny incisions.
“A woman is typically on her way home by noon from a 7:30 a.m. procedure,” Bertrand says. “Many women are not accustomed to the idea of returning to work within two weeks as they have seen their mother or aunt convalesce over five weeks.”
Using the da Vinci robot, a tool for minimally invasive hysterectomies, gynecologists at Texas Health Dallas are able to precisely control incisions with a robotic arm.
Pharis opted for the hysterectomy because it was minimally invasive, wouldn’t remover her ovaries so that she would have natural hormones, and most important, because it solved her problem.
“You have to look for the scars to see them,” she says. Ten days after her surgery, Pharis was able to comfortably travel 300 miles by car to watch her daughter’s soccer match and then return to work. “Three weeks after my procedure I played doubles in a tennis league match,” she says. “Four to five weeks later, I resumed strenuous cardio and weight workouts and after 10 weeks, I went water-skiing.”
Pharis says that she would have put off the surgery if her only option had been a traditional hysterectomy. “I’m fit and wanted to move on with my life, so it was a good option for me,” she says. “I never missed a beat.”
For more information about minimally invasive procedures offered at Texas Health hospitals, visit TexasHealth.org/CuttingEdge.
Minimally invasive hysterectomies at Texas Health Dallas include laparoscopic and robotic surgeries. The hospital is one of only three in the U.S. to be named a Center of Excellence for gynecological surgery by the American Institute for Minimally Invasive Surgery for its high volume of minimally invasive women’s surgeries and superior patient outcomes.