Fibroid Removal Surgery: Real Talk About Myomectomy

| 24 Comments

Hey Gang!  So in case you’ve noticed I haven’t been posting many gym #selfies lately.  It’s not because I’m being lazy and skipping the gym, rather I recently had fibroid removal surgery (myomectomy) and have been out of commission.  I had no intention of writing a blog post about this experience, but I’ve encountered so many women that struggle with fibroids that I feel compelled to share my story.  Now don’t fret, this is a story of a success and hope, not of negatively and fear.  So let me start from the beginning…

Source: www.ivfplano.com

Source: www.ivfplano.com

I’m very active young woman, 29 years old with no history of any medical problems. However, like a year and a half ago my periods started getting really heavy to the point that they were inconveniencing me at work and making it difficult to get through the day.  I thought it was just due to my body changing with age and because I had stopped taking birth control. A few months later I mentioned my symptoms to my OBGYN during my annual exam and she responded that my heavy menstruation could be due to fibroids.  I was like, huh?  Surely enough during my exam she did feel some lumps on my uterus so she instructed me to a have an ultrasound, during which my fibroids were confirmed.  At this point, I totally freaked out.  A million questions ran through my mind like –  “Can I still get pregnant?” “Do I have cancer?” “Is this because of my diet or lifestyle?” “Do I need surgery?” “If so, what kind of surgery?”

Fortunately, my doctor was very thorough and walked me through the severity (or lack of severity) of the situation and explained that fibroids are benign tumors very common among women of child-bearing age and in most cases can go left untreated if they are not causing symptoms.  However, mine were causing symptoms and were fairly large (ranged from 2cm to 7cm) so she highly recommended that I have them removed if I planned to become pregnant in the future.

“Okay,” I thought to my self, “So I know I need to have surgery, the questions now are: When?  And how I will have the operation?”  This is where my GRIT by Brit hardcore research mode kicked in.  During my investigation, I learned 3 key facts that changed my world for the better:

  1. You are  NOT alone – up to 80% of women experience fibroids before the age of 50.  So don’t freakout.  You’re not critically ill or cursed.  As long as you treat your fibroids appropriately, you are likely to be well.  Also, the presence of uterine fibroids is mostly genetic.  So if you your mom had them (mine did) you will likely have them too.  Also, some studies show that high consumption of alcohol and red meat are likely to lead to fibroids, but this hasn’t been scientifically proven.
  2. You do NOT need a hysterectomy – If you have several fibroids and ovarian cysts you may think that a complete hysterectomy (removal of your entire uterus and ovaries) is your only option.  This is not true!  For many older women in their later 40’s and 50’s this is the best option because they are not likely to bear children.  But if you are in your 20’s or 30’s, you can opt for a myomectomy to remove your fibroids and preserve your fertility.  For some women who have really small fibroids that are not growing rapidly, birth control is an effective treatment to mitigate heavy bleeding and no surgery at all is needed.
  3. You do NOT need to get a giant C-section scar – So many of you, like me, are very active wellness-minded young adults who cringe at the thought of being cut open and laid up on the couch in agonizing recovery for several weeks.  Fortunately, there are several non-surgery options and minimally invasive surgery options (e.g. laparoscopic myomectomy, DaVinci Robot myomectomy, high intensity focused ultrasound- HIFU)
Leaving the hospital just after my fibroid removal surgery 1/22/14

Leaving the hospital just after my fibroid removal surgery 1/22/14

Personally, I decided to go with the laparoscopic myomectomy to treat my fibroids.   I really wanted to do HIFU, but it’s still in the clinical trial phase and radiologists will not let women who wish to become pregnant undergo the procedure – so HIFU got ruled out.

I had surgery on Jan. 22, 2014 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital with Dr. Jon Einarsson.   It was a day surgery and the procedure itself took about 3 hours.  I checked in the hospital at 8:30am and went home around 3pm.  Here’s a pic of me leaving the hospital (in some pain but still cracking a smile for the camera).

Below is a photo of my uterus before and after my surgery.  As you can see up top, the fibroids were making my uterus much larger than needed and taking up way too much space in my belly.  I also had an ovarian cyst which you can see on the bottom left corner of the top photo. On the bottom you can see my uterus now, without the fibroids and without the cyst.  So much more space! There’s some stitches and internal gauze that will dissolve over time.

Brit's Uterus before and after the Laparoscopic Myomectomy - fibroids and ovarian cysts removed!

Brit’s Uterus before and after the Laparoscopic Myomectomy – fibroids and ovarian cysts removed!

Here’s a photo of my incisions.  I’ve gotta be honest, I was really concerned about having a giant scar on my belly – who wants that?  I was so relieved to learn that I could have my myomectomy surgery done laparoscopically (even though lots of gynecologists told me I couldn’t…hmmmm).  As you can see, there are just 2 small incisions on the left side of my abdomen (each only 1 centimeter) and then there’s an incision in my belly button.  So, 3 incisions altogether.  Each incision is covered with a dermaglue that peels off in like 2-3 weeks.  Not bad huh?

Brit's incisions from Laparoscopic Myomectomy by Dr. Jon Einarsson

Brit’s incisions from Laparoscopic Myomectomy by Dr. Jon Einarsson

Look at me now!  Feeling healthy, fibroid free, and ready to hit the gym :)

Look at me now! Feeling healthy, fibroid free, and ready to hit the gym :)

Today, I’m grateful to report that I am 3 and a half weeks post surgery, have ZERO fibroids or ovarian cysts, a fully functioning uterus and ovaries and I feel AWESOME!  The laparsocipic surgery has significantly less recovery time and uterine scarring than the open myometocty, which is puts me in better shape for when I get pregnant in the future.  I’ll return to work full-time this week with zero restrictions.  Last week I’ve even starting working out again!  Also, my scars are tiny and healing very well.  I have minimal swelling in my abdomen but my pelvis region is still a bit tender.  I also have some bruising around my groin and on my upper thighs which will last for another month – that’s the worst of it.  Overall, I feel so blessed for the abilities of modern surgery and for my amazing surgeon, Dr. Einarsson. 

I just wanted to share my experience with you guys so that hopefully it can be a story of encouragement for anyone going through the same thing.  If you have ANY questions at all feel free to post a comment below.   Also, if you have had experience with fibroids, please share your story with us!  Let’s support each other :)

Be a Well Woman!  xoxo, Brit

Author: Brittani Rettig (GRIT by Brit)

Entrepreneur, blogger and fitness instructor energized by fierce fitness, family, sunshine and hard work #GRIT

24 thoughts on “Fibroid Removal Surgery: Real Talk About Myomectomy

  1. Brit, thank you so, so much for sharing your story and kudos to you for not being afraid of the surgery, I certainly am! I have 3 fibroids ranging from 3 – 4.33cm and a cyst on the left ovary, and although I don’t bleed heavily I have other symptoms that can be constraining. My doctor recommended a hysterectomy, but I’m only 42 and although I don’t have kids, that door hasn’t shut for me and my husband. If God were to bless me with a child I would be thrilled! But that just hasn’t happened yet. We have talked about getting the surgery but I’ve been such a chicken. But reading your story and especially after seeing the pictures (yuck, by the way!) I just might take the plunge now. Fibroids are very common in women and left untreated they will eventually go away on their own without treatment, but who wants to wait that long? I thought I was willing to, but perhaps not anymore! Thank you again Brit, and so happy that you are back up and running again. You are such an inspiration to me and so many others!!!

    • Thanks so much Ashley! Surgery can be a tough decision, but I encourage it. All the best on your journey – expecting blessings in abundance for you.

  2. Glad you are feeling well! You’re such a rockstar.

  3. Thanks for being so willing to tell us about this!

  4. Glad you are feeling better and thanks for sharing your journey. I just shared the link with a friend that is having some similar issues and has to make a decision about what to do.

    • Thanks Demetra! It’s great to hear from you and thanks for sharing with your friend – wishing her all the best on her journey!

  5. Thanks a million Brittani for sharing your story. Although I do not have fibroids, my mom has suffered tremendously from them and is also scared to have surgery being that the only option she was given was a hysterectomy. I know she doesn’t want any kids lol being that my sister and I are pushing 30 but she has been trying to learn about other less invasive options. I will most certainly share your story with her for encouragement. Much love and blessings to you!

  6. Hi Brit! I have fibroids and I wanted them removed but my gyn said they were too small to operate on. Besides the heavy bleeding, I don’t have any symptoms; I just can’t stand the feeling while working out. I am glad you found relief and am now free. God bless for sharing your story. FYI I did the tricep workout in December and January. I started again this week and it is still KILLA. I’m still doing the tricep push ups on my knees but I feel and see a difference!

    • Hey – thanks for the comment! yea, when they are small, sometimes it not worth going through surgery. Glad you like the tricep workout – keep in touch!

  7. Hi Brit – so sorry to hear that you had to go through this, and I am SO glad that you are okay now!!

  8. Hi Brit, my case is very similar to your case.
    I am very concerned about what type of procedure to choose for my myomectomy. I’m trying to avoid the scars as much as you did. Why did you prefer Laparoscopy rather than DaVinci? Your doctor performed a very nice job, and he let you only 3 scars!! less than with the DaVinci method.

    Could you post an update about your scars and stomach size? Also, your routine after the procedure.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Hi there! Sorry for my delayed response. I preferred the laparascopic because I only have 2 visible (very tiny scars). There are only 3 incisions, 2 on your side and 1 through the belly button which you can’t see at all. With the Di Vinci, there are 4 scars. Also, the Da Vinci is a longer surgery b/c it takes time to set up the robot so you will be under anasthesia longer. However, I hear the DaVinci can be more precise because the arms of the robot are more flexible and can remove the fibroid better. It all depends on which method your Surgeon is most comfortable with, at the end of the day you just want your surgeon to feel really confident with the procedure. My scars are so small, you can hardly see them – like I have no problem rocking a bikini. My abs were not affected at all, I still have good definition in my abs. For the first 2-3 weeks after the sugery, my tummy was swollen but then it went down significantly. I really hope this helps! God bless you and your health – claiming victory!

  9. Hi Brit, Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m currently scheduled to have a abdominal myomectomy on 4/28, I’m curious what type of fibroids did you have and how many? I have two submucosal and two intramural fibroids that need to be removed and each doctor doctor has suggested an abdominal myomectomy which has me REALLY nervous.

    • Hi – I actually all 3 types of fibroids, submucosal, pedunculated and intramural. I also had 13 of them! Seriously, no joke. So many docs told me it was impossible to do the surgery laproscopically, but I insisted on finding someone who could and I’m SO glad I did. I’m back to 100% in only 2 months. I ran a 5K in 3 weeks. Do your research and select the best surgeon available. I encourage you to do the myomectomy but do it laparoscopically or robotically!

  10. Hey Brit. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I just had a consult at Brigham & Women’s last week for minimally invasive surgery. I was wondering if you had any other symptoms before your surgery, like a protruding abdomen, bladder issues, pain not associated with your period? After you had the surgery and initial bloating went down, did you feel that your stomach was flatter? I feel like I have a football in my stomach and am not sure if this is due to the fibroids or extra weight? And how did you come to decide on Dr. Einarsson. I met with Dr. Karen Wang and liked her very much.
    Thanks!

    • You’re welcome! No, I didn’t really have any other symptoms other than heavy bleeding. My stomach is the same as it was before the surgery – so I don’t think the fibroids made my belly protrude. It’s probably due to water retention or extra weight. Dr. Einarsson has a really good reputation for laparascopic surgery, so that’s why I chose him, but I think all of the surgeons are top notch. You are in good hands! All the best!

  11. Hi Brit! This has been the best article I’ve read. And I have read many. One question I can’t find the answer too: is it safe to work out before your surgery. I’ve ready it can aggrevate the fibroids. I don’t have any symptoms other than a large tummy. Can I weight lift? Can I do crunches? I’m scheduled to have surgery August.

    • Hi – so glad my post was helpful for you. Yes, I did workout and lift weights before and after my surgery. Exercise never aggravated my fibroids but rather helped reduce cramping. As always, you should consult with you doctor before engaging in any strenuous exercise or physical activity. Lots of luv to you! xoxo, Brit

  12. Thank you Brit….I am in the same situation. Read your article which gave me so much hope that everything’s gonna be alright.

  13. Hi Brit!
    thank you for sharing your story and pictures. I am scheduled for a laparoscopic myomectomy with robot Nov 6. How are you doing now? My biggest question: have your period been lighter since the surgery? Thanks!

    • HI Katie! Praying for a safe and successful surgery and your speedy recovery. I feel wonderful! My periods are SO much lighter it’s like magic. I’m really happy I decided to have surgery and think you will be happy with you decision too. Keep in touch :)

Leave a Reply