Vaginal mesh is implanted in the vagina to support the bladder and/or other pelvic organs. The implant is designed to be permanent if a non-absorbable material is used, as tissue grows through and around the mesh after surgery, making it very difficult to remove at a later date. If an absorbable material is used, it will dissolve over time, leaving only the additional tissue that grew over the area to provide support for the bladder and/or other organs. However, while vaginal mesh implantation works well for many women, the vaginal mesh can cause complications in some patients.
It is impossible to say why some women experience vaginal mesh complications and not others. It is also impossible to say just how long vaginal mesh will last for any woman. Some experience complications weeks or months after surgery; others don’t experience problems until years after the surgical procedure. However, what can be said for sure is that every single woman who has had a vaginal mesh implant should be aware of symptoms indicating that something is wrong with the mesh.
Vaginal Mesh Complications
The FDA has found that one in ten patients has experienced complications after vaginal mesh surgery. Organ damage is the most common complication, as nearly 6% of women who have had vaginal mesh surgery have subsequently experienced damage to one or more organs. Mesh erosion into the vaginal walls is also a common problem, as is the perforation of the bladder.
There are also less serious symptoms that indicate the vaginal mesh may be eroding or even shrinking. These include pain during sexual intercourse, pain in the stomach, pelvis, legs, and/or buttocks, vaginal infections, unusual discharge and/or bleeding, the inability to completely empty the bladder when urinating, and neuromuscular issues. Women who experience these issues should seek immediate medical help to properly diagnose and treat the problem.
What Happens when Vaginal Mesh Doesn’t Last?
When a woman experiences vaginal mesh problems, a medical professional may be able to prescribe oral medications or intravenous antibiotic infusions to treat the infection. However, if the medication does not remedy the problem, surgery will be required to remove the mesh and repair tissue damage. This form of surgery should be scheduled as soon as possible to prevent additional infection and medical problems. Both absorbable and non-absorbable mesh can be removed by a doctor should the need arise.
Vaginal mesh can be an effective treatment option for women who suffer from stress-related incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse. However, it is impossible to know just how long the vaginal mesh will last, as many women experience problems with the mesh days, weeks, or even years after the implantation. A woman who is considering vaginal mesh implantation should talk with a doctor at length about potential complications and explore other treatment options before surgery. Those who have already had a vaginal mesh implantation should be aware of potential symptoms and seek immediate medical help is problems arise to prevent serious infections and/or organ damage.