Time off work and exercise after laparoscopy?

Hi everyone, I have just received a letter to give me a date for my laparoscopy which is on 6th May and I was wondering if anyone can give me a rough guide as to how long I would expect to be off work after the operation? I know everyone will be different depending on what they find but just an idea would be great.

The last one I had was in 2010 but was different because they also had to do a laparotomy (fairly large abdominal incision) to remove a 7cm cyst from my right ovary so I was off work for six weeks that time (and I had more of a desk job then) but I would expect this time will just be the keyhole so more minor. I also wasn't allowed to drive for a number of weeks that time but I presume it'll be ok after a few days if it is just the lap?

I am a fitness instructor so quite a physical job teaching classes etc and also doing personal training so I want a rough idea of how long I need someone to cover my classes and give clients a good expectation of when I can start up again.

I also ride horses competitively and currently sending off competition entries for May and June so wanted an idea of when I might be back in the saddle!

Thanks in advance.

16 Replies

  • Hi - what are you having a lap for - was the cyst endometriotic in 2010. 'Just a lap' can range from a diagnostic lap that just looks around to a 7 hour plus procedure to remove deep infiltrating endo. So there really is no way anyone can say without knowing what might be involved. What has lead to this?

  • Sorry, I wrote that in a hurry and didn't explain very well! I also don't know a huge amount about endo and all the different procedures.

    So, to explain... The cyst I had in 2010 was found on a scan as I was getting a lot of pain on my right side and was quite swollen in my tummy. I didn't know I had endo at that point, I knew nothing about it but was getting very heavy periods and a lot of abdominal and lower back pain but when they went in to have a look to remove the cyst they found: (this is what it says on the letter I got after the surgery) 'a large area of vesicular endometriosis in the vesico uterine pouch. There were several deposits if infiltrating endometriosis in the Pouch of Douglas. All the endometriosis in the Pouch of Douglas was treated with bipolar diathermy. The vesicular endometriosis in the vesico uterine pouch was treated lightly with bipolar diathermy to prevent inadvertent bladder damage. The right ovary was mobilised and delivered and the endometriosis cyst completely removed. The ovary was repaired...'

    After that my pain was greatly minimised but for the past five years we've been trying to conceive with no luck including two failed rounds of IVF last year. My pain and discomfort has gradually returned over the last few years then last year I was really struggling with it, particularly in my lower back and my right side which started to travel into my groin and down my leg so went back to my GP in December to get it checked out. I had an appointment a couple of weeks ago with the consultant and she has referred me for this lap, mainly investigative but they will try to remove any areas of endo if they find it. She did say if it was very extensive or complicated they won't do anything and instead refer me to a specialist.

    Weirdly (and I didn't think it was possible) I found out I was pregnant in January so haven't suffered so much with the endo pain (other than discomfort from a small cyst they found on my right ovary) so I was going to cancel my consultant appointment but then a month ago I miscarried at 12 weeks :( Thought I would try and get the possible endo sorted before we try again.

    I hope that helps and thank you for reading my ridiculously long story!

  • Hi - the fact that you already know you have infiltrating endo in your pouch of douglas confirms that you have deep disease that must only be dealt with in a specialist centre so your consultant will only be able to look around. It's a shame as you really should have been referred to a centre for the lap. The endo in your uterovesical pouch needs specialist treatment too. Previously they just burned the surface so you must be quite sure they don't attempt to do this again in those areas as it can damage the bladder and the nerves on your uterosacral ligaments in the pouch of douglas. Have a look at my posts on rectovaginal and uterosacral ligament endo and on the treatment pathway so you can guide your treatment from now on. 

  • Hi Lindle, thank you so much for your advice. So am I right in saying that because I had endo in those areas previously that it is likely to still be there?

    When I went to see the consultant I showed her the letter about my previous treatment so she was aware of where I had it and what I had done. I was at a different hospital then as m husband is in the military so we have moved twice since my initial surgery in 2010 so I keep a copy of my notes and take the, to all appointments.

    I'm wondering whether I should have pushed to be referred for specialist treatment then? She did say they would do the lap and if it was very extensive I would be referred so I guess there is no harm in going for this lap? They might find nothing in which case at least I won't be wasting the time of the specialist!

    Thanks again for your help and I will have a look at your posts you are referring to.

  • Yes, the fact that your pain has increased suggests that the deep endo is progressing. This type of endo is in the form of 'nodules' that are composed of endo within fibromuscular tissue that has taken a long time to develop. There comes a point where they start to impinge on nerves. It isn't yet understood whether nodular endo is the last stage of the evolution of peritoneal endo (the more usual presentation on the peritoneal surface) or whether it represents a separate form that originates from tissue present at birth. Sometimes it seems that nodules can reach a point where they don't progress whereas in others the infiltration continues. In your case the relevant point is that the diathermy treatment will only have burned the surface so in the presence of continuing and increasing pain it is likely that it has progressed. 

    In considering your statement 'they might find nothing in which case at least I won't be wasting the time of the specialist!' please, please be aware that this sort of deep endo is more often than not missed by general gynaecologists. She will see the scarring from the previous diathermy in the pouch of douglas and may say there is only 'old' endo there but this will mean nothing in terms of what might be going on beneath which she will have no means of seeing at a lap. She may feel nodules if she carries out a proper digital examination at the lap as she is required to do (feeling with fingers in the vagina/rectum) but ultimately only a MRI scan will confirm one way or another what level of infiltration you might have. The most important thing is that the lap is treated as diagnostic and follows the correct procedure (see my post on the diagnostic lap) and that she doesn't attempt to carry out any surgery on your uterosacral ligaments, bladder or bowel. 

  • Thank you Lindle for taking the time to respond, that's all really informative and I had no idea. When I was diagnosed with endo, all I knew about it was what was in the letter after the surgery and nothing was explained to me at all so I just forgot about it. I've only started looking into it more recently with all the trouble I've had with fertility, pain and other symptoms, a lot of which I didn't think was relevant but now realise they are (such as in pain in my lower back, IBS symptoms during my period, pain in my groin etc) and now a miscarriage at 12 weeks pregnant which is the final thing that has made me want to get this investigated.

    I'll speak to the consultant about being referred after the lap. I have found there is a specialist endo centre in Southampton which isn't too far so hopefully I could get to see someone there.

    Thanks again for all your help, and your other posts which explained a few things, especially the one about the endo in the POD. X

  • If you have a laparoscopy and they find nothing or only mild disease it would be 3-4wks until I'd even think of considering exercise. If severe Endo is found they may do a lot of work, recovery 6-8wks (minimum) but again that would be for a desk job. Just because the incisions are small doesn't mean necessarily that it's a minor surgery - a skilled Endo surgeon will always opt for laparoscopy over laparotomy and can conduct major surgery via the small incisions; I've had two major ops done this way. I would get your classes covered for 6 weeks to cover you - going back into heavy physical activity any sooner would jeopardise a good recovery and def forget about the horse riding in May, maybe end of June? Sorry not to be able to say it's a doodle, that's really not been my experience with minor or major laparoscopy. Oh!! And oh my gosh driving a few days after the op isn't a great idea and tbh I think you'll prob find it impossible so early. You're going to feel very groggy with anaesthetic for a start and will have abdominal pain that could make it difficult to sit comfortably/move around. A few weeks of DVDs/reading, not doing anything strenuous is best. 


    (Bear in mind in the above advice it states you'll be home no later than a day after surgery - for me always 3-5 days. It also mentions about no driving and at very least 3 wks off if you have a physical job)

  • Wow, I didn't expect that. I just assumed my last recovery just took ages because of the incision and the invasive nature of removing the cyst from the ovary! Thank you though as at least I know what to expect as in my head I was thinking I'd be completely back to normal within a couple of weeks. 

    Oh, this will be fun as I am hopeless at sitting still and doing nothing! I am also moving house in June!

  • I wen't back to PT five weeks after an op once, big mistake I was in agony and set myself back a couple of months.

    Don't do any heavy lifting for your house move, best to delegate that to someone else!

    Good luck x

  • One good thing about my husband being in the military is the removals they organise for us do all the packing too. I couldn't face packing and unpacking an entire house every two years! So I will be able to just watch and supervise 😊

  • Ah mine has just left! I never lived in a pad though we have lived separately for the last 8 years! That will be good you can put yer feet up and have a brew! :)

  • Incision is the easy bit, they can do a tonne of work inside that causes a lot of post operative pain. Removing pod Endo is pretty invasive too it's horrid to have Endo down low around there. It sounds like the doc is doing an investigative lap so I wouldn't expect a recovery of 8-12 wks with that, more like somewhere in the region of 4-8 depending on what happens. You're doing completely the right thing having the Endo dealt with prior to ttc again. So sorry to hear of your mc, it's very common with Endo; I had two early on, told to rest as much as possible and do nothing strenuous for first trim+ when fell preg again. Your time will come too xx

    Make sure if you are referred it is to a bsge centre specialist and they carry out excision surgery - Lindle will be able to advise you on the correct protocols to be followed in Endo care. 


    Def def have at least 4-6 wks cover for work as a starting point and don't rush back if you're still feeling unwell as you'll pay for it in the long run. As for moving house, I moved 3 wks after my first surgery, thought I was fine and then found myself stuck in a toilet whilst out for a celebratory meal on the day moved in. Was unable to get up/walk = a&e....

    I would def advise, if you can, getting any heavy lifting done now and any packing you can get done now - at least it will keep you busy in run up to op! Hire a removals company for the majority and if you need to leave your place spic and span then hire a team of cleaners for the day to get it done. June is too soon after op for any serious housework! 

    I know it's maybe a shock to hear all this but you're better knowing and being prepared, read up as much as you can. Hope everything goes well for the op xx

  • Thank you applebird for your reply, that's all really helpful. I am pretty clueless about endo, it is so complicated with all the different types and levels. I suppose I had mine removed last time and didn't think anything of it since, just tried to brush it under the carpet until the suffering got too much. They might not find anything when they go in but the consultant seemed to think if I had it that extensively and haven't had any treatment for six years it's like.y some will have come back.

    I didn't realise miscarriages were common with endo, I thought it was just more of a problem to conceive in the first place. The doctors played that down and just said it would likely be due to a chromosome abnormality.

    The horrible thing about my miscarriage was that we'd gone through so much to get that far. My Dad was diagnosed with cancer on 18th January and I found out I was pregnant the following week. It was like some kind of little miracle to give everyone hope. I had some light bleeding at six weeks so had a scan at the early pregnancy unit at seven weeks. Much to our surprise everything was fine and we even saw the heartbeat. I suppose that gave us hope that everything looked positive.

    Sadly my Dad went downhill really quickly and passed away on 7th March. The following week I miscarried (12 weeks pregnant) and it was the most horrendous experience, I've never been in so much pain and so scared with the amount of bleeding and spent a couple of days in hospital. I had to have the surgery to remove the remaining pregnancy sac etc and only got out of hospital at 11.30pm the night before his funeral. Life just seems so unfair to have two of the best things in life ripped from me within the space of a week. I really don't know how I've coped with everything but somehow have been getting through it, maybe just to be strong and support my Mum (Though saying that I am now sobbing writing it all down and facing it!) 😥

    I'm hoping my Dad will be looking out for me now and and pull a few strings to help me have some luck for the rest of the year!

  • I'm sure he will be xx you have been through such a lot, truly empathise, what a heart breaking and frightening experience for you. Just look forward that if you have been through all that you can get through anything. 

    Here is an article I received from another Endo girl, the research is all pretty new but indicates that Endo women need more care in the early/late stages of pregnancy. In your case I would say extreme stress contributed as well and probably being run off your feet. In most cases early miscarriages are due to chromosomal malformation though and 1/4 women go through mc. V. Sad but very common anyway.


    Read up here for Endo stuff laid out simply as a starting point. endo-resolved.com

    In trying to manage Endo following my last major surgery and getting set up to ttc I had acupuncture (both for pain and then for fertility too), went on the Endo diet and did bbt tracking to monitor my cycles. Both of us gave up alcohol completely and took pregnacare preconception as well as following all the usual nhs guidelines. I was basically on bed rest for the first trim of my preg following the mc, straight to bed when I got home each day, hubby took over cooking/cleaning, it was a bit more like bed 'arrest' which was frustrating but worth it.

    After everything you've been through take really good care of yourself with this coming surgery and particularly the second one if they find extensive Endo. I would def make time for you to treat yourself - what a year you've had - and really enjoy your new home when you get moved, it will all fall into place xx

  • Thank you. You're right... I should show this to my husband! I don't often relax and make time for myself, I'm always rushing here there and everywhere. I have two horses, a dog and a husband in the Army who currently lives away Monday to Friday because he is away on a course for seven months. I have a physical job too so don't get to sit down much (other than on a horse or spin bike!).

    Out of interest, how often did you have acupuncture? I had it in the run up to my second round of IVF, along with changing my diet to pretty much be sugar and gluten free, no caffeine and no alcohol (I don't really drink anyway). Although the IVF still failed at the same point as the first one I had (after embryo transfer) I didn't have such bad drug side-effects and got a larger amout of eggs collected and more fertilised. I generally felt a whole lot better so there is definitely something in the acupuncture and nutrition.

    I am generally pretty healthy diet-wise, I am conscious of it as I run nutrition and weight-management courses so need to try and practice what I preach! but I am trying to be ultra good now in the run-up to my op as I put on a bit of weight after the miscarriage so need to get that back off again before I'm stuck not being able to exercise.

    I'll have a look at that website and article. Thanks so much for all your help. It's so nice to chat to people who have gone through similar things. My husband doesn't understand really and I don't like to bother him with my problems when he is so busy with work and his course. Moving around with the Army makes it quite difficult to gain good friends to talk to about things!

  • R&R is essential! Though I know if you're very physical then sitting still can become the stressful time - my hubby is like that - a few days off and he is pacing back and forth like a captive animal - I literally hand him the trainers and set him off! Lol

    I felt much better with acu and Endo diet too - had acupuncture once a week whilst not preg which continued until end of first trim then she switched it to twice weekly, then once a month. I really struggled being off painkillers and couldn't have coped without it in the beginning, also found it very healing post mc as the lady gave me lots of advice having helped many in that position before. Re. Diet cutting out red meat, dairy and eggs is important - basically eliminate animal oestrogens from your diet as this just fuels Endo. 

    We were waiting for ivf tests etc. to start when fell preg naturally, honestly think the 'big' surgery, prostap treatment and lifestyle changes made all the difference. So hopefully it will be the same for you. Must be very hard with your hubby away a lot too. In saying that we were restricted with my pain levels as to when we could try so it was a bit of a coordinated plan of attack with charts and what not - how unsexy!

    Absolutely no bother at all, happy to chat away, you realise there are so many women going through the same as you which really helps in that you aren't feeling on your own with it anymore. Hubby will get there in time, mine was very quiet in the beginning but now talks about Endo all the time as it's had a massive impact on him too - you find there's a lot going of internal mulling things over, even if they don't say it out loud ;-) xx

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