What would you do if you had something that could end human suffering for over a million people? What if no one listened to you? What if they thought that if it was so good, they would have heard about it already? What if there were others that knew about it, but didn’t relay this information to those that could benefit? I have such a “something.” I have tried to tell and share this with as many people that will listen over the past 15 years, and yet, it surprisingly remains one of the best kept secrets in medicine. It is the driving force behind the creation of this blog. It is called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) or Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE).
I have one of the world’s largest UFE experience (now over 6,000 procedures performed). It is a non-surgical, outpatient medical procedure that replaces the need for surgery (ex. hysterectomy) for women suffering with uterine fibroids. Every working day in the United States over 3,000 women lose their uterus and fibroids are the number one reason why. In addition, there are over 1 million women who don’t want hysterectomy, and currently suffer in silence with a condition that won’t kill them, but makes their lives absolutely miserable.
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors, and therefore, have garnered little attention in both research efforts and in media coverage. One in three women of childbearing age, and up to three-quarters of African-American women have fibroids. It is the most common reason why women in this country undergo a hysterectomy. While fibroids are not cancerous or life-threatening, they make many women’s lives intolerable. These women suffer with severe menstrual bleeding, which can lead to profound anemia, fatigue, and weakness. Menstrual periods lasting for 1-2 weeks each month, episodes of blood pouring down their legs, or passing fist-sized blood clots, are just some of the symptoms these women endure. They often cannot work for several days each month due to disability and embarrassment of this condition. These women can be saved by this simple, non-surgical, outpatient Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) procedure.
You might wonder why people are not aware of UFE, since it is not new or experimental, and has a long track record of safety and efficacy. It is due to the fact that Gynecologists who typically see these patients, often fail to mention UFE, and only give the woman the option of hysterectomy (i.e. the surgical procedure that they perform). UFE is performed by Interventional Radiologists, who are physicians trained in minimally invasive, image-guided targeted treatments that often replace open surgical procedures. Not only do the patients who undergo UFE get significant relief in their symptoms (watch the video on the front page of our website), they completely avoid surgery/surgical scars/risks, and a long recovery. These women also get to keep their uterus; a point that is significantly underappreciated by many physicians. Since Gynecologists don’t perform UFE, they may not discuss this with their patients. While hysterectomy does end the fibroid symptoms, there are often additional consequences due to the common “after-effects” of hysterectomy that a lot of women endure (ex. depression from losing her womb, loss of sexual desire, inability to achieve orgasm, urinary incontinence). While these are not surgical complications per se, and therefore, are not readily discussed with patients, they can be even more devastating. Women suffering with fibroids need to know about UFE. They need to know that they have options besides surgery. They don’t have to suffer in silence and they can get their life back with UFE.
The following is an e-mail I recently received at 1:30 in the morning from a patient which typifies the struggle and suffering these patients endure, and how women who suffer with fibroids can get their life back completely without any surgery.
I could not think of anyone else to email at this late hour…after starting my menstrual cycle today. It is still amazing how my mind and body is on auto-pilot to wake up at this hour to change the towel on my mattress as well as my diaper because of the heavy blood flow I would normally receive. I just returned from the bathroom and the minipad that I’m wearing has only a few drops in it. I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BELEIVE THIS!!!
Not sure you remember me, but you performed the UFE procedure on me on 4 Nov 09. Before I heard about the UFE procedure, I was close to deciding on a hysterectomy. My health and my life was a mess. I was severely anemic…hemoglobin down to 8.1 and dropping, thyroid level all over the place, suffering from urine incontenence because fibroids were resting on my bladder and strapped up like a gangster with pads and tampons! I had pads everywhere, in the car, in my office, in my bible, in every purse, in my children’s luggage, in my boots…etc. At times, I thought I would literally bleed to death with periods lasting 3 weeks every single month. My blood clots were painful and scary! The clots would drop into the toilet like little Angry Airborne Aliens! Sometimes I would stand up and blood would explode into my panties and run down my leg into my shoes. I cried many nights because I felt helpless and embarrassed. I couldn’t enjoy many of the activities I enjoyed because my periods kept me prisoner.
Not anymore! I have my life back and my family has me back. My hemoglobin level is already up to 10.3, my thyroid (TSH) is normal and I no longer suffer from urine incontenence. I just started training for a marathon. I plan to spend lots of time at the beach this summer…in a swimsuit! This summer I can wear the cute, short sun dresses and can fall asleep on my girlfriends couch if I need to. Thanks so much for performing this amazing procedure. I cannot express how grateful I am to you and your staff.
…I just checked again. Still only a few drops. God is good! Going to bed, not planning to get up until it’s time for work.
Thank you Dr. Lipman!!!!!