Learn The Facts
A lot of women needlessly endure stress urinary incontinence (SUI), a condition in which they experience an involuntary loss of urine when they laugh, sneeze or exercise. In fact, SUI is the most common form of incontinence in women, impacting 28 percent of women age 30-39 and about half of women over 50, according to a recent University of Washington survey.
There are many treatment options for this condition, both surgical and non-surgical. One of the surgical options is a sling operation. This is an effective procedure involving the placement of support material through small incisions in the vagina.
There are many types of slings, most of which have been used successfully for more than 15 years. However, concerns have been raised recently about complications associated with synthetic slings.
In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an alert on the use of some types of slings for incontinence surgery.
Consequently, we often see patients in our office who are frightened at the prospect of getting any type of sling to resolve their issues with leaking. However, there are a number of slings that are highly effective and have very low risk.
Learn the facts
When considering any kind of surgery, you shouldn’t be shy about asking all the questions you would like answered. To get the information you need to make an educated decision about slings, talk to a urogynecologist, a specialist who is trained in both female urology and gynecology. Urogynecologists are focused on finding solutions for women who suffer from leaking and other problems involving the bladder, uterus and rectum.
A vaginal sling is a sort of hammock. It provides support for the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder. That support keeps the urethra from opening and spilling urine when you do jumping jacks, have a coughing fit or do other activities that result in leaking.
The mesh is made from polypropylene, a form of plastic. It has been used safely for more than 30 years in many surgical procedures, such as hernia repairs and vascular surgery.
Know your options
According to the FDA, the use of slings to treat SUI is less invasive than repairs that don’t involve slings, which require a larger incision in the abdominal wall. Because there is less cutting of tissues, patients can expect less pain and a quicker recovery.
Sling procedures involve tiny cuts about the size of an eraser head. So there is very little scarring.
The outpatient procedure for the slings takes about 20 minutes and is performed under anesthesia. Within 36 hours, most women are back on their feet, feeling as if they have not had surgery. The time for a full recovery varies with the individual, from a couple of days to a few weeks.
After they recover, about 85 percent of women will be able to jog, sneeze or laugh at good joke without leaking.
So is a sling right for you? A urogynecologist who is experienced in both surgical and nonsurgical treatments for SUI will answer your questions and provide you with the information you need so that you can make an informed decision.
For an appointment call the Christiana Care Center for Urogynecology and Pelvic Surgery. Babak Vakili, M.D., Howard Goldstein, D.O., and Emily Saks, M.D. are the only urogynecologists in Delaware who are board-certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
The Christiana Care Center for Urogynecology and Pelvic Surgery
4735 Ogletown-Stanton Road
Medical Arts Pavilion 2, Suite 1208
Newark, DE 19713
Christiana Care Center of Women’s Health
3706 Kennett Pike, Greenville, DE 19807
Smyrna Health & Wellness Center
100 South Main Street, Suite 215, Smyrna, DE 19977
call 302-623-4055 or visit www.christianacare.org/urogynecology
Babak Vakili, M.D., is the director of the Center for Urogynecology and Pelvic Surgery. Dr. Vakili is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He completed a fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at the Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans, LA.
Emily K. Saks, M.D., MSCE, is a urogynecologist with the Christiana Care Center for Urogynecology and Pelvic Surgery. Dr. Saks completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and has completed a fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Howard B. Goldstein, D.O., MPH, is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He completed a fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, NJ. He currently serves as the Director of Research and Education for the Division of Urogynecology.