10+ dresses (and fits) to wear after a hysterectomy
Updated: Sep 5
As you all know, I recently had an open myomectomy to remove some large uterine fibroids. I have been very vocal about my journey in the hopes of raising more awareness about not just fibroids themselves but also letting women awaiting surgery see what the recovery process is truly like.
As new fibroids have a tendency to grow even after a myomectomy, a lot of women tend to get a type of hysterectomy once they are done having children. This could be an abdominal hysterectomy or a vaginal hysterectomy or a laparoscopic hysterectomy.
Oftentimes, the heavy periods characterized by severe bleeding, cramps, bloating, blood clots, back pain, pelvic pain and overall feeling f fatigue and heaviness are too much to bare. That's when it's probably a good idea to follow up with your doctor or health care provider to see if getting a hysterectomy is a possibility for you.
For those who may not know, a hysterectomy is a medical procedure which involves the surgical removal of the uterus. Some women elect to have this surgery while others are more less forced to have it due to life-threatening medical conditions. The recovery process and time is almost identical to that of an open myomectomy and so I feel knowledgeable enough to write this post to help women going through this difficult process.
A lot of women associate their uterus with their womanhood, their femininity and so this process can be challenging not only physically but also mentally for many. Some women experience a sense of loss after this surgery. I strongly encourage anyone waiting to have this surgery to seek a therapist before surgery day or to know one they can call should the need arise. Emotional support during this time is a must and if you cannot get it from the circle of friends and family you have, you need to get it from somewhere else.
One aspect of recovery that a lot of women may struggle with is knowing how to dress while recovering from this major surgery. You may also want to check out my post on items to get before your myomectomy and a lot of these items would apply to a hysterectomy as well.
When it comes to dressing while in recovery, you have to think of comfort and ease of wear when selecting clothing.
When you're experiencing hot flashes and pain from incision sites, the last thing on your mind should be worrying about which sundress to wear to relax at home and avoid any irritation of your wound. Breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen come to mind.
Here is a full list of ideas for the types of clothing you can wear during your hysterectomy recovery.
1) A cotton sundress
A cotton sundress is a great option because a) the cotton absorbs sweat and keeps you cool (remember, heat flashes?) while the sundress itself is easy to wear, especially if it's a strapless one. I would recommend keeping the dress no longer than ankle length just because you want to avoid tripping on it if you're rushing to the bathroom for those first bowel movements.
You can get this particular style HERE.
Trust me, I know a thing or 2 about the first few bowel movements and how painful they can be. Make sure you're taking your stool softeners as recommended, at least for the first 2 weeks regardless of your diet.
The pain medicine your doctor put you on could be making you constipated and so regardless of how good your diet is, you want to avoid slowing your recovery process due to very painful bowel movements. Just make sure to drink lots of water and eat foods rich in fiber.
2) Shirt dresses
Like midi dresses, shirt dresses are really easy to wear and very comfortable. If you are wearing a pad due to vaginal discharge or experiencing vaginal dryness, then this style of dress helps conceal ALL that's going on while you stay cool and comfortable during your recovery period.
Depending on your type of work and if you are working from home, you could still pull this look off with some flats should you not be back to normal when you return to the office.
Dress - HERE
If you were told to wear an abdominal binder by your doctor, this dress would work great at hiding it when you step out, whether it be for business or pleasure.
3) Sweatpants and tees
Yes, I know, not a dress but as your activity level would significantly decrease while recovering from your hysterectomy, causal wear will probably be your best friend. You must figure our your most comfortable joggers/sweatpants and keep them on one side of your closet.
Make sure they hit your lower abdomen just right (above your incision if you got a horizontal one) and that they can be pulled up or down with ease.
This look is also a great option if you are going for a short walk as it would allow you to wear your pad without fearing that it may drop to the floor.
4) Casual midi dresses
During my recovery time from my open myomectomy, I experienced vaginal bleeding for about 2 weeks post surgery. I was wearing a pad during most of this period and could not wear any underwear because everything would irritate my vertical incision (with staples).
I found that really short dresses showed my pad, which was a no-no when I was having visitors while really long dresses would get in the way whenever I attempted to walk.
Midi dresses with short sleeves ended up being my go-to clothing of choice. Try to find ones without zippers, to ease your dressing up process in the morning and also if you live alone with no family member to help you out.
5) A linen shirt and shorts with a drawstring waist
Again, not a dress but I admit, this is still a really great option and I wanted to include them to this list.
Linen, like cotton, is a great breathable fabric, just more annoying to iron and keep wrinkle-free.
Until you resume you normal activities, you may find it burdensome to wear clothing with buttons and zippers. That's why I specifically noted drawstring shorts. You don't want a zipper irritating your abdominal incision site and delaying your recovery due to an infection!
This is a great option HERE.
6) High waist skirts and tops
Any clothing above your belly button is probably a good idea for at least the first month of your recovery. This just assists in the prevention of incision or scar irritation while you're healing both from the outside and inside.
During my own recovery, I found that high waist skirts with elastic waist bands were all I could tolerate. Also nothing tight fitting, just loose skirts and t-shirts or v-neck tees and tops.
I also find that this is a look that works if you're going for follow-up appointments as it's easy for the doctor to access your belly without needing to get completely naked.
7) Nightgown or night shirt
While you are getting the plenty of rest you need and deserve during your healing process, it is equally if not more important to stay comfortable during your bedtime. For the first month after my myomectomy, all I could wear to sleep at night were night gowns or night shirts.
Affordable night shirt HERE.
After your major abdominal surgery, you would be spending most of your time in bed - you might as well make it a comfortable stay and invest in light, knee-length night shirts and nightgowns.
If you're spending more time at home, you might as well get cozy! Loungewear can be worn when you have guests coming to visit and you want to look chic without sacrificing your comfort.
It also works great for your first few outings post surgery with family or friends as the loose-fitting sweatshirts fall nicely on your frame while the bottoms allow for free and easy movement.
Athleisure is that sweet spot between athletic clothing and casual wear. It's clothing you could either do a light workout in or just look like you work out in. As you steadily start to increase your physical activity, athleisure may grow more of a presence in your wardrobe as you go for longer walks, start doing some yoga or just work on deep breathing and stretches.
Here is a similar look.
Always ensure to follow medical advice before embarking on strenuous exercises post-hysterectomy. Even after you have been cleared for workouts, you know your body best and so you want to monitor your energy levels each step of the way.
10) Dashiki shirts and shorts
I won't lie, on some days post-surgery, I would just wear a dashiki shirt with no bottoms. My abdomen had staples on top of my incision for a week post-surgery and I'm not exaggerating when I say EVERYTHING irritated it. I had a vertical incision right up to my belly button so even diapers were uncomfortable for me.
You can get a dashiki shirt HERE.
I was more than happy to throw on one of my dashiki shirts and just call it a day on the hot Summer afternoons. One of the perks of living alone :)
As a proud African, I have never worn as many boubou's in my life as I did in the 4 weeks following my surgery. Boubou's are a traditional African attire that can either be dressed up or down. Some come with embroidery and are worn for special occasions while others can be worn casually.
I went through my closet and found all my boubou's and kabas (also a loose-fitting African dress) before my surgery and placed them on one side of my closet. I kept them in rotation thanks to their ease of wear (no zipper nor buttons) and loose fit.
This Boubous is available HERE
They're also a great way to conceal your swollen abdomen while it heals (if you want to avoid getting congratulatory messages from strangers while you're out strolling). I don't know about you but my belly looked like I was at least 6 months pregnant right after my surgery.
As with all my lists, this one is not exhaustive and I would be updating it periodically. I would also be including more links depending on demand.
Whether you are getting a total hysterectomy or a partial hysterectomy, it is important to take the time to recover well. Take your pain medication as needed (and do not shy away from this as there's a reason why they were prescribed). A healthy diet is a very important factor in your recovery.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of fluids, especially water; this also helps with constipation. Get some form of physical activity carried out each day, no matter how painful it is. I'm talking a few steps in the beginning - this is to avoid potential blood clots or deep vein thrombosis.
Avoid heavy lifting and any sexual activity as per your doctor's instructions. Sexual intercourse is a form of exercise and engaging in it before you are recovered enough could be detrimental to your recovery.
You know your body best and so if something feels odd, check with your doctor or seek immediate medical care at an ER. It is normal to experience menopause symptoms such as heat flashes and irritability as well as vaginal dryness but if you start experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath or very heavy bleeding (soak through a pad within an hour), then please get yourself checked.
Looking for more home outfits inspiration? Check out this post.