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What Should I Expect from Urinary Incontinence Surgery?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Hundreds of surgical procedures can be used to address urinary incontinence, depending on the patient's situation, the cause of the incontinence, and the doctor's preference. Each procedure is slightly different, and patients should always get specific information from their surgeons about the procedure or procedures available to them to learn about important details which may influence their decision. Typically, urinary incontinence surgery is provided when other measures of controlling incontinence do not appear to be working, although sometimes it may be recommended as an early intervention.

These surgeries run a span from minimally invasive outpatient procedures with very low risk to serious surgeries which require general anesthesia and a hospital stay for monitoring. Some complications of urinary incontinence surgery to think about include the risks of infection, pelvic organ prolapse, difficulty urinating, and painful intercourse. If the surgery requires the patient to be under general anesthesia, there are additional risks associated with adverse reactions to anesthesia.

For women, urologists sometimes recommend waiting on urinary incontinence surgery until their families are complete. Pregnancy and labor can be very hard on the body, and they may strain the site of a urological surgery to the maximum, potentially causing an injury. However, some procedures may be safe for use in women who are planning to have children or who want additional children; women should discuss this issue with their surgeons to learn about the most suitable options for their situation.

Some common examples of urinary incontinence surgery include sling procedures, in which support is provided to keep the urethra closed to prevent stress incontinence, along with bladder neck suspension, a more invasive procedure, and bladder augmentation, in which incontinence is addressed by making the bladder larger. Nerve stimulation procedures can also be used to control incontinence, and some patients can benefit from bulking injections, conducted as an outpatient procedure in a doctor's office. Recovery times vary from a few days to several weeks, depending on the nature of the procedure.

Incontinence can be frustrating and humiliating for patients, and it's understandable to want to find a solution sooner, rather than later. When evaluating urinary incontinence surgery options, patients should take the time to talk with their surgeons about the possible outcome of their surgery. It's important to be aware that surgery can't fix everything, and that even after surgery, people with some types of incontinence may continue to experience problems. Discussing expectations and goals with a surgeon before the surgery will help the surgeon provide the best advice, and will prepare the patient for the outcome of the surgery.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
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