It is now common to hear complaints from women who’ve undergone mesh implant procedures to remedy health problems. There are different kinds available such as hernia surgical mesh implants, urogynecologic surgical mesh implants, and transvaginal mesh implants. These are intended to hold back the internal organs from protruding through the incisions after surgery. The most common surgical implant procedures are being administered by gynecologists. Some of the gynecological conditions these doctors treat are stress urinary incontinence (SUI) as well as pelvic organ prolapse (POP). SUI occurs when one has urine leakage caused by increased physical activities resulting in tremendous pressure on the bladder. POP happens when organs in the pelvic region like the bladder, bowel or uterus, start to push against the bladder wall and are caused by weakened muscles. Women who gave birth are susceptible to this since their muscles have weakened after childbirth. The doctor surgically embeds the mesh to prevent the pelvic organs from bulging through the vagina. This is done transvaginally, meaning it’s implanted through the vagina.
Over the years mesh implants have been proven by the FDA to cause detrimental symptoms such as bleeding, painful sexual intercourse, infection, mesh erosion and persistent medical problems relating to SUI or POP. It is doing more harm than good for patients in most cases. Luckily, patients can now choose among alternative methods that are far safer than surgical mesh implants. Let us further discuss the available options for these different ailments:
Stress Urinary Incontinence Treatment Options
This is caused by the stress from physical exertion, like lifting, running, or even laughing, placed on the bladder leading to the involuntary release of urine. A transvaginal mesh was meant to give much needed support to the bladder by reinforcing walls and reducing the impact of stress. Here are some safer and more effective options:
- The Autologous Transobturator Midurethral Sling Method: Developed by the Mayo Clinic as an alternative to mesh implants. A tissue is obtained from abdominal muscles, formed into a sling, and then placed below the urethra to give support. Albeit similar to a mesh implant, the complications are substantially less severe. Nevertheless, most medical experts recognize the need for further research on the long-term safety of this method.
- The Burch Procedure: Although this method is not proven to be more efficient than a transvaginal mesh, it does lessen some of the problems caused by implants. Akin to a POP surgery, the doctor inserts a laparoscope through a vaginal opening or an abdominal incision. Furthermore, ligaments around the bladder are sutured to give additional support to the surrounding tissue and urethra.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse Treatment Options
A Pelvic organ prolapse transpires when an organ no longer stays in their correct position within the abdomen, thus resulting in tearing and straining of the vaginal tissue. A transvaginal mesh functions by boosting the prolapsed organs up to their proper place and giving the much needed support, making them stay there so the affected tissue can heal. On the other hand, there are other alternative options which can provide better results.
- POP Surgery Procedure: A transvaginal mesh was designed to be an update for invasive abdominal surgery to remedy POP. The original method is done by making incisions in the lower abdomen, the doctors then utilized pre-existing tissue to boost the prolapsing organs to their correct positions. This is considered a major surgery since patients have to be confined for several days and require a considerable recovery time for the abdominal incisions to heal. It all changed when a laparoscope was created. This apparatus is a tiny camera on a length of tubing and can be inserted through tiny holes. Other devices are also inserted through identical small incisions, thus making POP surgery an outpatient procedure with two weeks for the recovery period.
- The Pessary Option: Even though it is still considered an implant, a pessary is a non-surgical option for treating POP. This sturdy, plastic device is placed inside the vagina to provide support for the prolapsed organs. The patients who have chosen this option mainly manages with the pessary at home, with occasional consultations with their doctors. The pessary might cause infection or moderate irritation but can be easily relieved through additional lubrication or by taking out the device temporarily.
As a result of numerous complaints about the unsightly effects of surgical mesh procedures, the Food and Drug Administration is now carefully looking into other alternative treatments before transvaginal mesh implantations. It is because the mesh is a permanent implant and a removal may not be possible should certain problems arise. Many doctors have been recommending other remedies such as exercising, physical therapy, and Kegel exercises, which could help alleviate stress incontinence.