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Surgery for Stress Incontinence: The procedure, risks, complications and more

  • Posted on- Oct 22, 2016
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Stress Incontinence Surgery involves eliminating the conditions of women who are experiencing uncontrollable leakage of urine from the bladder. The surgery may be performed using Retropubic Suspension, Tension Free Vaginal Tape or Vaginal Sling Procedures.

What are the reasons for a stress incontinence surgery?

  • To improve a woman’s quality of life, who is experiencing a complete loss of bowel or bladder function Repairing abnormal bladder deficiencies

How a stress incontinence surgery is performed?

Retropubic Suspension Method

  • It may be performed by making a larger incision on the lower abdomen (open procedure) or by making multiple small incisions on the belly to introduce a laparoscope and surgical instruments (laparoscopic procedure)
  • The lowermost part of the bladder, adjoining part of the vagina and part of the urethra, are then tied to the pelvic bone and ligaments (tissue that connects bones) to give them support

Tension Free Vaginal Tape Method

  • The surgeon makes an incision inside the vagina and two incisions on the abdomen above the pubic hair
  • A tape is then introduced through the cut made in the vagina and placed under the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside)
  • The two free ends of the tape are brought out through the incisions made on the abdomen and the tension on the tape is corrected
  • Excess length of the tape that protrudes beyond the incision is then cut and the incisions are sutured

Vaginal Sling Method

  • The surgeon makes an incision inside the vagina and one on the abdomen above the pubic hair
  • A sling made of biological tissue or a synthetic material is introduced through the vaginal incision and positioned from under the urethra. The other end is tied to tissues in the lower abdomen

A gynaecologist or urologist performs stress incontinence surgery. It make take 2 hours to complete the procedure.

Preparations needed before a stress incontinence surgery

  • The physician may evaluate the individual’s medical history to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the overall health status of the patient including information related to the medications that are currently being taken
  • Some medications increase a person’s chances of bleeding and it may be recommended to discontinue them for a period of time before the procedure is performed
  • Blood tests may be performed to determine if there is a bleeding tendency or any other medical conditions that prevents the person from undergoing the procedure
  • Inform the physician if you are allergic to any local anaesthetics, lidocaine, etc.
  • Avoid application of any cosmetics, deodorant, or topical medicines on the area prior to the procedure
  • It is advisable to quit smoking and the use of any nicotine based products for a while before the surgery
  • Consumption of alcoholic drinks must also be avoided for a period of time, as instructed
  • The patient must avoid eating or drinking at least 8 hours prior to the surgical procedure, depending on when the procedure is arranged
  • For individuals suffering from diabetes, it is important that the blood sugar stays within the normal range if not, their diabetologist may have to control blood sugar by recommending insulin or a combination of oral medicines

Complications during stress incontinence surgery

Complications after stress incontinence surgery

Post-operative care needed after stress incontinence surgery

  • Slowly resume daily activities as early as possible, which aids in faster recovery
  • Use a heat pad or warm compress to relieve pain due to the incision
  • Resume showering and keep the wound clean and dry. Gently wash the surgical wound with mild unscented soap
  • Replace dressing after showering
  • Complete the course of prescribed medication, as advised by your physician
  • Individuals may take acetaminophen to relieve pain. However, ask your physician if ibuprofen or aspirin is acceptable
  • Avoid sex until complete healing has taken place (under advice by the physician)


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