Female Surgical Procedures

Different Types of Female Surgical Procedures

Countless female surgical procedures are performed daily, including hysterectomies, mammoplasties, and abortions, both elective and therapeutic. A hysterectomy is a procedure to remove the uterus, and sometimes the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Approximately, 33 percent of American women will have had a hysterectomy by the time they turn 60 years of age. Mammoplasty is a surgical procedure to change the size of a woman's breasts. Greater than 50 percent of all mammoplasties performed actually decrease the size of a woman's breasts to attempt to relieve chronic back pain. Abortion is defined as the intentional termination of a pregnancy. An elective abortion is one decided on by the patient herself. A therapeutic abortion is a termination procedure legally performed by a qualified health care professional if the health of the mother is in jeopardy. Estimates suggest that since the legalization of abortion in 1973, more than 42 million abortions have taken place in the U.S..

Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure performed to take out a woman's uterus. In some cases, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are also removed. Hysterectomies are very common procedures. It is estimated that one in three females in the United States has had a hysterectomy by the time she is 60 years of age.

Reasons for Hysterectomy

Reasons for a hysterectomy include:

  • Fibroid tumors.
  • Endometriosis (when other treatment methods have failed).
  • Prolapsed uterus (uterus drops down into the vagina).
  • Uterine, cervical, and/or ovarian cancers.
  • Persistent vaginal bleeding (continues despite treatments).
  • Chronic pelvic pain.

It is extremely important for a patient to discuss other treatment options with a healthcare provider prior to undergoing this invasive surgery. A hysterectomy will stop her menstrual periods. Hence, she will become permanently sterile (can no longer become pregnant). If both of her ovaries are removed, she will enter menopause.

Mammoplasty

Mammoplasty is a very common surgical procedure performed by a plastic surgeon to change the size of a woman's breasts. Sometimes, a woman will elect to have breast enlargement surgery (also known as breast augmentation). However, greater than 50 percent of all mammoplasties are performed to actually decrease the size of a woman's breasts (also called a breast reduction) in order to relieve chronic back pain. This surgery can also be done when breasts are significantly different in size.

When a breast cancer patient has had a mastectomy to remove her breasts, she may choose to have an additional mammoplasty procedure, where the surgeon rebuilds her breasts. Breast reconstruction may be done at the same time as the mastectomy, or it can be done later. If radiation therapy is part of the patient's ongoing treatment regime, her doctor may recommend waiting until after her radiation treatments are completed.Breasts can be reconstructed in many different ways. While some women elect to have saline or silicone gel breast implants inserted, others choose to use tissue taken from other parts of her body. Tissue can be taken from the skin, muscles, or fatty tissue of the lower abdomen, back, or buttocks. The reconstruction technique used often depends on the woman's age, body type, and type of cancer surgery.

Abortion

An abortion is defined as the intentional termination of a pregnancy. An elective abortion is performed as a result of a patient's personal choice. A woman may choose to terminate a pregnancy resulting from a sexual assault or one where the fetus is known to be abnormal. A therapeutic abortion is a termination procedure legally performed by a qualified health care professional when the health of the mother is in danger and before the fetus is viable (can survive outside of the uterus).

Approximately 20 percent of all pregnancies (not including miscarriages) are terminated by an elective abortion. Estimates suggest that since the legalization of abortion in 1973, greater than 42 million abortions (legal) have been conducted in the U.S..

Pre-Abortion Examination and Tests

Prior to any type of abortion, the patient has a pelvic exam in order to positively confirm the pregnancy, as well as to estimate the number of weeks of gestation. A serum HCG blood test may also be done. An ultrasound of the vagina or abdomen may be used to more accurately ascertain the gestational age and location of the fetus.

Abortion Procedure

Elective abortions, performed anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks of fetal gestation, involve dilation of the cervix followed by removal of the uterine contents by suction that is applied to the uterus' inner walls. In 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of mifepristone as a medical alternative to surgical abortions. Other drugs used include misoprostol, methotrexate, and a combination of these medications. The majority of women who choose medication options do so in order to avoid having an anesthesia or invasive surgical procedure.

Side effects of these medications can include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Chills.
  • Headaches.
  • Bleeding for longer time.
  • Greater awareness of cramping as compared to the surgical procedure.

When medications are administered as an elective abortion option, expulsion of the uterus' contents will more than likely occur at home. In some instances, a surgical procedure might still be necessary in order to complete the abortion process.

Resources

  • Health Central (2013). Abortion: Elective or therapeutic. Retrieved from: http://www.healthcentral.com/ency/408/001512.html?ic=506019
  • Mayo Clinic (2013). Hysterectomy. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hysterectomy/MY00163

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