UFE Recovery time is about 5-7 days and the recovery you can expect after uterine fibroid embolization is much quicker and less debilitating than either of the surgical options hysterectomy or myomectomy. If you or a loved one are suffering from uterine fibroids and are researching options for relief, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) may be an option for you. UFE is an outpatient procedure, is minimally invasive, and is a significantly safer procedure.
What To Expect After Uterine Fibroid Embolization
The UFE recovery timeline is much faster than that of traditional fibroid surgery. Since each woman is unique, recovery experiences will vary but a typical UFE recovery is approximately 5-7 days. Following is an outline of UFE recovery time.
Pain After UFE
Up until a few years ago, the first several hours were the toughest during your UFE recovery. Experienced fibroid centers like the Atlanta Fibroid Center, have modified their pain protocol both before and during the embolization procedure, which has essentially eliminated this initial spike in post-procedural pain. It emphasizes the importance of going to an experienced Fibroid Center for your UFE procedure.
There will still be post-procedural pain which appears gradually over the first afternoon/evening and is typically managed with the medications prescribed for you during discharge. After you wake up the next morning, you are able to get out of bed, and walk around, and while you will have some activity restrictions you can fully take care of yourself. This quick mobilization helps you recover much faster than after having surgery.
At The Recovery Room
You may be instructed to lie flat for a while in the recovery room and will most likely have a small bandage on your wrist and/or groin. The sedation medication you were given for the procedure will begin to wear off after a few hours and you may be given more while in the recovery room and will be given a prescription to continue pain management at home.
You may feel pressure or the sensation that you need to have a bowel movement. Normally emptying your bladder will alleviate some of this feeling. You most likely will have cramping (normally at its worst the first afternoon/evening after the procedure), like bad menstrual cramps and some women experience nausea.
Day One at Home
You will need someone to drive you home when you are released because you will be taking painkillers (usually for 24-48 hours). Everyone is discharged on prescription-strength ibuprofen which is to be taken every 6 hours (while awake) for the next 5 days whether there is any pain or not.
When you wake the morning after the procedure, you can feed yourself, care for yourself, and ambulate. Walking is strongly encouraged! You might start the morning in a chair and as much as you are able, you will be encouraged to walk around. Another important key to a quicker recovery is to push fluids. The more fluids you can consume, the better.
UFE Recovery: Week One
You may shower after 24 hours but no bathing, swimming, etc. (i.e. submersion underwater) for the first 2 weeks after the procedure. There is also no intercourse or working out/gym activity, etc. for 2 weeks. Dr. Lipman will give you specific instructions on when you can resume these activities.
Increasing the time out of bed and couch and increasing one’s activity within reason will help speed up the recovery.
During this first week, you will most likely continue to experience cramping that may be more frequent but will be milder than the first day. Any discomfort can be alleviated through the prescriptions you were given.
A small percentage of patients may experience the post-embolization syndrome. It is caused by how the body reacts to the treated fibroids in some women and presents with a low-grade fever, pain, and nausea. Women may notice that when they awaken their nightgown is soaked due to sweating overnight. Encouraging the patient to increase her fluid intake will help prevent a fluid deficit. This syndrome usually lasts for only a few days and should wane by the end of the first week.
After the first week, the vast majority of patients are back at work. You may be experiencing some light discharge or cramping but should be feeling better, stronger, and more energetic each day. Some occasional patients are not able to return to work until 10-14 days, and these patients usually have an underlying chronic medical condition (e.g Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Myasthenia gravis).
You should be feeling like yourself again and can resume your normal activities after this two-week point. The average UFE recovery time is 5-7 days and is much quicker than that of a hysterectomy or myomectomy with 6-8 weeks of healing.
UFE Recovery: First Period
The first menstrual cycle is often lighter, but if not the second one will be, and the third one even better still! Some women may not menstruate for a few months, and if she is over 50 years of age, she may not menstruate again. Pain and discomfort experienced during your cycle should improve month over month as well.
It would not be unusual for you to pass “clots” after UFE normally without any additional discomfort. If you notice a foul-smelling discharge, you should contact your doctor. This is typically due to the temporary passage of some dead fibroid material and not an infection. Other symptoms that should prompt a call to the doctor are:
- a fever of 101.5,
- severe abdominal pain after the first 5 days,
- heavy menstrual bleeding after the first few months.
Long Term Results After UFE
Over 90% of women report significant improvement or complete resolution of all of their symptoms (e.g. length and heaviness of their period, significantly less pain or pelvic pressure, and resolution of increased urinary frequency/nocturia). For these women, their lives have been transformed with a much better quality of life after UFE.
Studies have shown that after five years new fibroid growth is much less likely in women who have had UFE vs. myomectomy. This is because typically after UFE there are no living fibroids in the uterus. Whereas there are typically a lot of living fibroids in a uterus that have just undergone myomectomy (i.e. they surgically can’t remove all of the fibroids).
Video: “My UFE Recovery Period Was One Day.”
If you are experiencing any symptoms of uterine fibroids, or you’re the loved one of someone living with fibroids, don’t hesitate to contact the UFE expert, Dr. John Lipman, and his caring staff at the Atlanta Fibroid Center by calling (770) 214-4600 or making an appointment online.