Advances in microsurgery have made tubal reversal easier on patients, reducing scarring and shortening recovery time. Tubal reversal is now usually done as an outpatient procedure, with a recovery period of approximately seven to 10 days.
Tubal reversal post-op
Expect to spend the day at the surgery center. Depending on the technique your surgeon uses, she will use either local anesthesia (in which you'll have no sensation at the incision site, but stay awake) or general anesthesia (unconscious). If you’re asleep for the procedure, it will take a couple of hours to fully wake up. Either way, you’ll stay under medical observation for two to six hours after the operation.
One provider estimated that approximately one in 50 women will experience enough nausea or other discomfort to warrant spending the night in the hospital. If you’ve come from another state for your reversal, your surgeon may ask you to remain in town for two or three days, just to be sure you’re okay.
Your doctor will probably advise against aspirin for pain relief, since it can cause bleeding. Use only physician-approved pain medications.
Tubal reversal recovery
Follow these instructions during your recovery:
- Keep the surgical site dry for the first 48 hours; after that it should be safe to bathe.
- When you dry off, pat the incision dry with a towel. No rubbing is allowed while the area heals.
- The stitches will dissolve on their own over the next six to eight weeks. Expect your incision to be about two inches long and just below your pubic hairline.
- Schedule a post-op appointment for two weeks after surgery. Your medical provider will want to make sure you’re healing well.
If you’re in a lot of pain or notice excessive swelling or redness around the surgical site, notify your doctor immediately.
Restricted activities after tubal reversal
- Avoid lifting anything heavier than 20 pounds for the first two to four weeks.
- Wait a couple of weeks before having sex. Don’t be surprised if you’re not feeling ready in a month or more. You might feel weak and have low energy for one to three months.
- How soon you return to work depends on your job activities. If you have a desk job, you might only need to take a week off. Those with more active jobs should stay away longer. Your doctor will determine when you can return to work.
Tubal reversal complications
Any type of surgery involves potential risks. However, tubal reversals carry less chance of these complications than many other surgeries. Any surgery could result in:
- Excessive bleeding
- Damage to nearby organs and structure, in this case the bladder or bowel
- Allergic reactions to medications and anesthesia, in rare cases, death
After a tubal reversal, you may also face a 2-7 percent higher than normal risk for ectopic pregnancy. This means an embryo has developed outside of your uterus.
Pregnancy after tubal reversal
After you’ve taken at least 10 to 14 days to heal – and longer if you need it – you can resume sex. Pregnancy rates vary widely, depending on your age and the type of tubal ligation you had before the reversal.
Because of the higher risk of ectopic pregnancy, closely monitor your menstrual cycle. If your period is even two days late, make an appointment with your doctor for a quantitative hCG level, which is a blood test for pregnancy. In the outside chance that you have an ectopic pregnancy, it’s better to find out sooner than later.
Updated July 2014