There are different treatments available to address fibroids, but most involve surgery. Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), a non-surgical alternative to eliminate the significant symptoms caused by fibroids, has been gaining notoriety over the past 20+ years.
If you have never heard of UFE, you are not alone, but if you have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, it may be an excellent option for you.
Most Women Are Still Unaware of the UFE Option for Treating Fibroids
Despite the availability of the UFE procedure for the past 25 years, most women with symptomatic fibroids are unaware of this outstanding, nonsurgical procedure. This happens for a few reasons:
- UFE is not performed by a gynecologist and therefore, many gynecologists fail to mention UFE as a treatment option for their symptomatic fibroid patients.
- Lack of information on medical websites on UFE. This is because gynecologists are typically responsible for the content in this area, and information is often biased against UFE, or UFE is not mentioned at all.
- No national media attention for UFE as the “go-to experts” for fibroids are typically gynecologists, and once again UFE is not highlighted despite a 25-year track record of safety and efficacy.
What Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive, non-surgical, outpatient procedure that is 90% effective in eliminating the symptoms due to fibroids. There is no hospital stay required, and the recovery time is usually 5-7 days.
How Does UFE Work?
Fibroids need a blood supply to grow and thrive. UFE cuts off the blood supply to the fibroids, and therefore, the fibroids begin to die off. As they die, the fibroids soften and shrink in size. As this occurs, a woman’s fibroid symptoms go away. It can treat any size fibroid, in any location in the uterus.
Who Performs Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
UFE is not performed by a gynecologist, but rather by a different type of physician: an Interventional Radiologist. Interventional radiologists are specifically trained doctors in targeted, minimally invasive procedures all over the body which replace the need for a surgical operation. In the case of fibroids, the UFE procedure performed by an interventional radiologist would replace the surgical procedures that remove the uterus (hysterectomy) or remove some of the fibroids (myomectomy).
All UFE Specialists Are Different
Interventional radiologists, just like surgeons, can specialize in one specific area or can perform many different types of procedures. A general surgeon is licensed to perform a wide range of surgical procedures from an appendectomy to heart surgery. If you needed heart surgery, would you choose a general surgeon or a surgeon who specializes in cardiovascular surgery? I think the answer is obvious.
Like any medical procedure, there are risks associated with UFE. It is therefore important to choose an interventional radiologist who specializes in UFE and has a large experience in performing thousands of UFE procedures.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization Is Becoming More Available
In the last few years, celebrities, non-profit organizations, and social media influencers have played a role in educating more women about UFE and the many benefits it offers without the risks of fibroid surgery. With patients now becoming more familiar with UFE, treatment centers offering it are popping up everywhere.
If you’re suffering from symptomatic uterine fibroids, one important question to ask is, “How do I find the best doctor that is experienced in UFE?”
7 Tips on Choosing the Best Fibroid Specialist
When choosing a UFE specialist or a fibroid treatment center that specializes in UFE, research these 7 categories:
1. Check Credentials & Experience
Before you undergo any procedure including UFE, you should research the doctor that will be performing your procedure. You should find out:
- What are their educational background and credentials?
- Does the Interventional Radiologist have the initials “FSIR” after their name?
FSIR stands for Fellowship in the Society of Interventional Radiology and is the ultimate recognition of professional achievement for an Interventional Radiologist and is only attained by ~10% of all Interventional Radiologists in their lifetime. Pay attention to this when seeking a UFE fibroid treatment specialist.
- How long has he/she been performing UFE?
- Is the UFE procedure their specialty?
- Does she/he perform UFE on a daily basis?
- How many UFE procedures has he/she performed?
- Are you seen by the doctor in their office prior to the procedure?
- Do they require an MRI prior to the procedure?
- Do they perform UFE as an outpatient or do they admit their patients overnight in the hospital?
2. Research the Practice
- How long have they been in business?
- Do they specialize in UFE or are they a center that performs many radiology procedures, e.g. dialysis, vein treatments, etc., but can perform a UFE if necessary?
- Is the Center equipped with a standard “fixed unit” angiographic table that you would see in the hospital or do they get by using a small portable C-arm?
- Does the Center have individual private rooms like a hospital or is there one large “recovery area” separated by thin, flimsy curtains between patient gurneys?
3. Seek Referrals and Read Reviews
With the availability of pretty much everything online, access to this information is easy.
- Find a UFE specialist who has a good reputation for their expertise, office environment & staff, and follow-up care.
- Speak to those in your circle of influence who possibly had UFE and learn from their experiences.
4. Look for Media Coverage
If you found a true expert, there will be others learning from that individual. There may be:
- Industry publications, stories/interviews in the media quoting this expert;
- Papers written by this expert;
- Lectures, webinars, podcasts, and YouTube videos given by this expert;
- Organizations, non-profits, or task forces they currently participate with.
5. Check for Industry Achievements
- Special accreditations;
- Government recognition or recognition by educational institutions.
Did you know? Atlanta Fibroid Center is recognized as Best of Georgia 2021!
6. Watch Out for Misleading Information and Tactics
The best fibroid specialist will not need to use misleading tactics to drive patients to their clinic. When performing online searches, be aware that some providers will deliberately use a practice name that is similar to the expert’s practice name. This is a purposeful attempt to mislead patients and attract them to a different practice than they were trying to connect with.
They will also use the expert’s name in keywords so their similar-sounding practice will appear high in Google paid ads or organic search. They may even use content previously published by the UFE expert to gain credibility. Be diligent in obtaining accurate information related to the specific fibroid specialist you choose.
7. Ask Questions!
The truth is that most women feel intimidated when talking to a doctor. For many, it’s embarrassing to talk about menstruation or they may feel shame in the heavy fibroid-related bleeding or other fibroid symptoms.
Taking an active role in your healthcare is essential in today’s world. If you do not feel like you are getting straight answers, clear explanations, or are getting “negative vibes” from your fibroid specialist or the clinic environment, don’t hesitate to leave. Interview different fibroid specialists until you find the best fit.
Watch for Indicators of Low-Quality Fibroid Treatment Centers or Fibroid Specialists
If during your research you do not find adequate information on the doctor or fibroid treatment center, these could be warning signs that you have located a low-quality fibroid center.
If you are suffering from symptoms like heavy menstrual bleeding, abdominal bloating and pain, prolonged periods, break-through bleeding, back pain, frequent urination, pain during sex, etc., chances are you are experiencing symptoms of uterine fibroids. There is help available at the Atlanta Fibroid Center® which is one of the top UFE centers in the country.
John Lipman MD, FSIR has over 25 years of experience performing UFE procedures with close to 10,000 happy patients. He is one of the world’s leading experts in Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) and has treated patients from around the globe.
Schedule a consultation today!