Urethral sling surgeries to treat urinary incontinence involve placing a sling around the urethra to lift it back into a normal position and to exert pressure on the urethra to aid urine retention. The sling is attached to the abdominal (belly) wall.
The sling material may be muscle, ligament, or tendon tissue taken from the woman or from an animal, such as a pig. It may also be composed of synthetic material such as plastic that is compatible with body tissues or of absorbable polymer that disintegrates over time.
What To Expect After Surgery
These surgeries involve deep incisions, so hospitalization is required. To allow the urinary tract to heal, a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is placed into the bladder through the urethra or belly wall to allow urine to drain.
You will likely go home 2 to 3 days after the surgery if there have been no complications. After you are at home, expect a 2- to 4-week recovery period, during which you should refrain from doing too much work or strenuous activities of any kind.
The amount of pain you have after surgery depends on the exact nature of your procedure, your physical condition at the time of surgery, and your own response to pain. You will probably feel some pain at the incision site and may feel some cramping in your abdomen. Your doctor will prescribe medicine to relieve your discomfort during the first few days after surgery. Be sure to call your doctor if you cannot get relief from pain.
Many women have some constipation after this surgery. You can try some things to avoid constipation:
- Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day. These foods are high in fiber.
- Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water.
- Take a fiber supplement, such as Citrucel or Metamucil, every day if needed. Start with a small dose and very slowly increase the dose over a month or more.
- Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. Having a daily routine may help. Take your time and do not strain when having a bowel movement.
Tell your doctor if you still have constipation after you have tried these methods.
Why It Is Done
The urethral sling procedure may be used for women who have stress incontinence:
- Caused by sagging of the urethra and/or bladder neck.
- With a history of previous failed surgeries.
- Complicated by factors such as obesity that create a risk for failure of other types of surgeries.
- Caused by problems with the muscular outlet of the bladder (sphincter).
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