About half of all women will experience some form of pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime. Yet many women know little to nothing about this common problem and its surgical fix. Or what they have heard scares them.
Dr. Khashayar Shakiba is a board-certified urogynecologist and skilled surgeon who specializes in prolapse surgery. He’s heard a lot of the whispered myths and fears about prolapse surgery and is happy to share some truths about the procedure.
Female pelvic organs include your urinary bladder, rectum, uterus and other reproductive organs. The pelvic floor muscles act as a sling or hammock to help hold these organs in place. These muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissue structures can stretch and weaken as you age. The stress and strain experienced during childbirth or with obesity can also weaken these supportive structures.
As your pelvic floor muscles weaken, your pelvic organs can begin to drop (prolapse) and shift out of place. This places stress on the vaginal wall, which lies at the bottom of your pelvic region, and may result in a palpable or visible bulge in the vagina or result in loss of urine (incontinence), pain during sexual intercourse, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
But pelvic organ prolapse does not always require surgery. Mild prolapse may not cause any symptoms at all. Moderate prolapse may cause symptoms that respond to conservative measures such as pessary use to support the vaginal wall and physical therapy to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. If your symptoms worsen over time, we can always consider surgery in the future.
Surgery is often the most effective treatment for advanced pelvic prolapse. However, according to a research study published in the International Urogynecology Journal, many women misunderstand the intent of pelvic prolapse surgery.
Some, for instance, believe the surgery results in removal of the prolapsed organ(s). Instead, we perform prolapse surgery to return displaced organs to their proper position and restore missing support caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles.
Depending on the nature and extent of your prolapse, this may include use of surgical mesh to provide necessary support and/or repair and suturing of weakened structures, including the vaginal wall.
At Women’s Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey, we perform pelvic prolapse surgery using the da Vinci® Surgical System. This robot-assisted surgical platform provides the most advanced technology available for minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery.
Surgical instruments are inserted through five buttonhole-size incisions, one above the belly button and two on either side, which replace the long abdominal incision required for traditional surgery. The da Vinci system offers much greater precision and maneuverability compared to previous laparoscopic platforms as well as a 3D high-definition, real-time view of the surgical site.
Other benefits of da Vinci robotic surgery include decreased blood loss, reduced infection risk, less postoperative discomfort, and faster healing time compared to traditional open surgery. It generally takes six weeks to recover fully from pelvic prolapse surgery, but you can expect to be nearly back to normal at the end of two weeks.
If you’re wondering what the truth is about pelvic organ prolapse, call or click to schedule a visit with Dr. Shakiba here at Women’s Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey in Hackensack. He’s an expert in urogynecology and is comfortable answering any question you may have about prolapse surgery.