Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. However, if detected early, it is highly treatable. One of the most widely used treatment options for prostate cancer is a surgical procedure called a prostatectomy. This comprehensive article will provide an extensive overview of everything you need to know about prostatectomy and the prostate surgery recovery process.

What is a prostatectomy?

Prostatectomy is the surgical removal of the prostate gland. It is most often done to treat prostate cancer. However, it can also be done to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is the enlargement of the prostate that causes specific urinary symptoms.

The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland located below the bladder and above the base of the penis. It produces fluids that nourish and protect the sperm.

If cancerous cells develop in the prostate, a prostatectomy surgery may be recommended to remove the entire prostate gland and surrounding tissue. This prostatectomy surgery is a common treatment option, especially if the cancer is localized within the prostate. The goal is to eliminate the cancer before it spreads further.

Types of prostatectomy

There are several different types of prostatectomy procedures. The specific type of prostatectomy chosen depends on various factors like the stage and aggressiveness of the cancer, whether it has spread beyond the prostate, the patient’s age and overall health, and more.

1. Simple prostatectomy

A simple prostatectomy involves the removal of only a small part of the prostate gland. It is done for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which causes enlargement of the tissue. Only the enlarged nodules or lobes causing obstruction are removed with a simple prostatectomy, leaving most of the prostate intact.

This minimally invasive procedure may be done through the urethra or a small abdominal incision. A simple prostatectomy typically has a shorter recovery time than removing the whole gland.

2. Open radical prostatectomy

An open radical prostatectomy is the traditional “open” surgical approach to removing the entire prostate gland plus some surrounding tissue to get clean margins. The surgeon makes a single large incision in the lower abdomen, or perineum (between the anus and scrotum). Muscles are pulled aside so the surgeon can fully access the prostate and carefully excise it. Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed and tested for cancer spread. After removal, the incision is stitched closed. This traditional prostatectomy surgery requires a longer hospital stay for recovery.

3. Radical laparoscopic prostatectomy

A radical laparoscopic prostatectomy is a minimally invasive form of radical prostatectomy surgery. Instead of one long incision, the surgeon makes several tiny “keyhole” incisions. Long laparoscopic tools and a small camera are inserted through the incisions to remove the prostate. The camera provides a magnified view inside. This method typically causes less bleeding and scarring and has faster recovery times.

4. Robot-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy

A robot-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is another minimally invasive surgical method. It uses a specialized robotic system controlled by the surgeon to operate through tiny incisions. The robotic arms can move and rotate in a full range of motion inside the pelvis. The magnified 3D camera provides precise visualization. Robotic assistance allows enhanced nerve-sparing techniques. Patients often go home the day after this prostatectomy surgery.

What to expect during prostatectomy

When having prostatectomy surgery, you will be given general anesthesia before the operation starts, so you will be fully asleep, and the operation will certainly be pain-free. For an open radical prostatectomy, the location of the lower abdomen or perineal incision depends on your surgeon’s approach. After the incision is made, the prostate gland is carefully and meticulously removed along with surrounding tissue, vessels, seminal vesicles, and often pelvic lymph nodes. Frozen section biopsies are done to check the margins for cancer cells. After complete removal, the incision is stitched closed using absorbable sutures.

With minimally invasive laparoscopic prostatectomy methods, about five tiny “keyhole” incisions are made in the abdomen. Long instruments and a thin camera are inserted through the incisions. The prostate is isolated, the vessels are clamped off, and the gland is placed in a pouch to be removed through one of the incisions. Lymph node dissection may also be done. After the prostate is extracted, the incisions are closed with absorbable sutures or surgical glue. A catheter is inserted in the urethra to drain urine while healing.

What to expect after prostatectomy

After prostatectomy surgery, you can expect to stay in the hospital for one to three days. On the first day, intravenous fluids and antibiotics will be given. A catheter is placed in the urethra to collect urine, allowing the bladder neck to heal. You will be encouraged to start walking as soon as possible to stimulate circulation and prevent blood clots. You’ll receive medications for pain management after this major surgery. You could also receive supplements that are recommended by your doctor, like Prostara prostate supplement.

There will likely be some aching around the incision site or catheter for the first few days after surgery. Your post-prostatectomy pain should be well-controlled with prescribed medications.

You’ll need to avoid any strenuous activity or heavy lifting for four to six weeks after the procedure to allow internal healing without pressure. Sexual activity should be avoided during the initial recovery period as well. Prostate surgery recovery can be eased by following all of your doctor’s post-operative guidelines for rest and gradual activity.

Some common prostatectomy side effects after the procedure may include the following:

  • Temporary urinary incontinence – Leakage of urine is common after catheter removal. Kegel exercises can help strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
  • Erectile dysfunction – Difficulty obtaining erections due to nerve damage is possible. Oral medications or penile injections may help.
  • Retrograde ejaculation – Semen flowing backward into the bladder rather than out of the penis
  • Changes in orgasm sensation – Climax may feel weaker or less intense after surgery.
  • Penile shortening – The penis may be one to two cm shorter from scar tissue or nerve impacts.

What are the risks or complications of prostatectomy?

While an extremely effective cancer treatment, radical prostatectomy does carry the risk of side effects or complications. These include the following:

  • Recurrence of prostate cancer – Positive surgical margins increase the risk of residual cancer cells being left behind.
  • Formation of scar tissue or bladder neck contracture – This causes urinary retention and may require corrective surgery.
  • Infection – Urinary tract infection (UTI) may occur and require antibiotic treatment.
  • Chronic incontinence – Urinary leakage can persist long-term if sphincter muscles are damaged.
  • Erectile dysfunction – Difficulty obtaining erections may be permanent if critical nerves are cut.
  • Infertility – The surgery eliminates semen production, preventing natural conception.
  • Higher chronic disease risk – Loss of testosterone can increase obesity, heart disease, and diabetes risk.
  • Lymphedema – Swelling in the legs or genital area may occur from lymph node removal.
  • Change in orgasm feeling – Orgasmic sensation may diminish after the gland is removed.

How does life change after prostate removal?

Life after prostate removal will definitely involve an adjustment period. You may need to take steps to manage potential urinary or sexual side effects in the months following surgery. Expect to wait at least four to six weeks before resuming your normal exercise routine and sexual activity.

Some men experience depression or anxiety after this major operation. Many men worry about sex after prostatectomy, but rest assured, function often improves significantly within the first year of recovery. Support groups and counseling can help you successfully cope with changes after prostate removal.

Your doctor will provide recommendations on managing side effects like kegel exercises, medications, and follow-up care. Be patient with your body and allow it time to fully recover. Managing common prostatectomy side effects requires patience.

Prostatectomy recovery

The prostate surgery recovery time varies for each man based on factors like his age, health status, and the details of the procedure. Younger men often recover erections and continence sooner. Temporary prostatectomy side effects like urinary leakage and erectile dysfunction are common after surgery.

Minimally invasive robotic surgeries tend to have shorter recovery times as well. Most men expect the post-prostatectomy recovery phase to take approximately six to 12 months. Recovering fully after prostate removal surgery involves:

  • Allowing enough time for the abdominal or perineal incision site to completely close and heal. Avoid any strenuous physical activity that could strain or reopen the incision, causing bleeding or swelling. Carefully follow your doctor’s specific guidance on when you can safely resume more intense exercise and sex after prostatectomy.
  • Doing regular pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels) daily to help regain urinary control and sexual function. Pelvic floor exercises can help rebuild strength during prostate surgery recovery. Begin these gentle exercises as soon as the catheter is removed to start strengthening the muscles.
  • Taking care of mental health and getting counseling or joining a support group if needed. Seek professional support if you experience depression, anxiety, grief, reduced self-esteem, or other emotional struggles during the prostatectomy recovery process.
  • Have frequent follow-up checkups with your urologist or care team to ensure you are healing properly without complications. Your doctors will closely monitor your progress and address any concerns.
  • Using medications or devices prescribed by your urologist/oncologist to help manage urinary or erectile side effects after the surgery.
Prostate cancer

Long-term side effects of prostatectomy

While a prostatectomy aims to cure prostate cancer, it can result in some lasting side effects, including the following:

  • Urinary incontinence – Leakage of urine is common after surgery and may be permanent in some cases, requiring daily pads.
  • Erectile dysfunction – Difficulty obtaining erections may persist long-term after prostate removal due to nerve damage.
  • Loss of ejaculation – Without the prostate gland, semen can no longer be produced.
  • Reduced penis length – Scarring and nerve impacts may cause up to two cm of penile shortening.
  • Infertility – Inability to naturally conceive children due to absent semen.
  • Prostate surgery recovery can take a long time.
  • Low testosterone – Testosterone levels are lower after the testosterone-producing prostate is gone.
  • Increased fat mass and decreased muscle mass – Changes in metabolism and body composition.
  • Sex after prostatectomy may feel different at first, but satisfactory intercourse is often possible after sufficient healing.

Treatment after a prostatectomy

If you experience erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, or other concerning side effects after prostate removal, your doctor can suggest the following treatment options to improve your prostate surgery recovery process:

  • Pelvic floor muscle training with Kegel exercises to improve bladder and sexual function after prostatectomy
  • Penile injections, urethral suppositories, or vacuum erection devices
  • Clamps, slings, artificial sphincters, or bulking agents to control urinary leakage.
  • Testosterone replacement therapy to help reduce fatigue and low libido.
  • Emotional support resources and counseling for mental health.

Also, certain supplements may aid the recovery process after prostate removal surgery. For example, Prostara can help improve erection capability by enhancing blood flow to the penis.
Prostara is a superb supplement recommended for regenerating erectile function and easing the recovery process after prostate removal surgery.

Frequently asked questions

Why is prostatectomy done?

The most common reason for a prostatectomy is to treat prostate cancer [1] before it spreads beyond the prostate gland. Removing the entire prostate eliminates the source of testosterone, which fuels cancer growth. It may also be done to relieve urinary obstruction from an enlarged prostate.

When should I do prostatectomy?

If you are diagnosed with localized prostate cancer contained within the gland, a prostatectomy [2] may be advised after considering the cancer stage, PSA, biopsy results, age, health status, prognosis, and your preferences. It is most effective when cancer is still within the prostate.

Who performs prostatectomy?

The operation will be performed by a highly experienced urologic surgeon, urologic oncologist, or robotic surgical specialist. At high-volume prostate cancer centers, your surgery may be conducted by a designated prostatectomy recovery team.

How long will prostatectomy take?

The length of prostatectomy surgery depends on the technique used. Open radical prostatectomy typically lasts around two to four hours. Laparoscopic or robotic methods generally take two to three hours. The exact time varies from case to case. You'll arrive one to two hours early for preparation.

In summary, prostatectomy is a frequently utilized surgery for prostate cancer removal. Various techniques are available, from traditional open to minimally invasive approaches. Prostate surgery recovery takes months, and prostatectomy side effects are common initially but usually improve. Some ways have been discussed in this article to help with the prostatectomy recovery process, like supplements such as Prostara. Discuss options with your medical team to select the best prostate cancer treatment for your diagnosis and goals.


In summary, prostatectomy is a frequently utilized surgery for prostate cancer removal. Various techniques are available, from traditional open to minimally invasive approaches. Prostate surgery recovery takes months, and prostatectomy side effects are common initially but usually improve. Some ways have been discussed in this article to help with the prostatectomy recovery process, like supplements such as Prostara. Discuss options with your medical team to select the best prostate cancer treatment for your diagnosis and goals.