Considering Surgery

“I never think about it anymore. Ever. If only I had done it sooner.”
– Carol, 53

Ask Your Physician About Your Options

If you are experiencing any symptoms of bladder leakage, ask your general practitioner (GP) or gynecologist (OB/GYN) to refer you to a specialist to discuss treatment options. They can help you find a gynecologist, urogynecologist or urologist that focuses on the treatment of urinary incontinence.

Get the Facts About Stress Urinary Incontinence Surgery

Before scheduling your surgery, ask your surgeon about all stress urinary incontinence treatments, including non-surgical and surgical options. It is important to understand why your specialist is recommending a particular treatment for your urinary incontinence.

Be sure to ask your surgeon about any specialized training they’ve received in the surgical treatment of urinary incontinence and overall patient experiences. Learn what drove Carol, physician, and mother of three, to find an experienced specialist here.

Choosing a Specialist

Doctor discusses stress urinary incontinence surgery with patientFinding the right physician to treat your stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a very important step in seeking treatment. There are several specialists that may treat SUI, but even within each specialty, there will be physicians who specialize in certain conditions and treatment options.

Taking time to do your research can make all the difference in the care you receive. Remember to ask questions, get references and ask doctors about their success rates for each procedure you consider. Be your own advocate to find the best fit for you.

  • Gynecologists specialize in health care for women, especially the diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the female reproductive organs. This is a broad specialty, so it is important to ask questions to understand what each gynecologist specializes in. Don’t be shy. Ask how many others with your condition the gynecologist treats in a given month. If your gynecologist focuses more on obstetrics (childbirth) than pelvic floor surgeries, it may be best to find someone who has more experience with the care you need.
  • Urogynecologists are highly specialized – focusing on women’s reproductive system and urinary tract. They offer treatments for both pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. Since these conditions are often linked, seeing a urogynecologist may be a good option for you.
  • Urologists provide care for both men and women and focus on the urinary tract and urogenital system – the kidneys, bladder and urethra. If you have stress urinary incontinence, this may be the right specialist to seek. Some, but not all urologists perform pelvic floor repair surgeries, so be sure to do your homework.

Remember to ask any questions you have to help you feel confident in your health care provider. Seek information on health care provider review sites and ask to speak to past patients, if possible. You should feel completely comfortable with your choice of doctor.

What to Expect

The Surgery

Sling procedures may be performed as an outpatient20 surgery in a hospital, in an ambulatory surgical center (ASC) or sometimes in a physician’s office, depending on your specific type of surgery23. Your physician will choose the right setting based on your needs. Be sure to follow your doctor’s pre-surgical instructions.

During the procedure, your doctor will place the sling beneath your urethra; this provides support to help it stay closed when there is stress on the bladder, such as when you cough, laugh or sneeze19. In many cases, a sling procedure takes 30 minutes or less24.

After the procedure, your doctor may recommend restricting certain activities for a period of time. Your doctor will discuss your specific post-surgical care plans with you in detail. Learn about the importance of restricting certain activities from Tina’s experience here.

Doctor and woman talk about what to expect during and after stress urinary incontinence surgery

Benefits and Risks of Sling Surgery

Benefits

  • Short surgery time
  • Outpatient procedure
  • Recovery time generally is quicker than with other procedures for SUI

Risks

  • Some of the more common side effects from surgery include: mesh erosion, infection, short- or long-term pain, and injury to the bladder or other pelvic organs by the instruments used to place the sling. Ask your surgeon for a complete list of warnings, precautions and possible adverse events.