Unnecessary Hysterectomies vs UFE

Every year, hundreds of thousands of women in the United States have a hysterectomy, a serious operation to remove their uterus, after which they can no longer have children. It is the second most common surgery performed in the US which is rather surprising, as half of the population (i.e. men) doesn’t have a uterus to remove.

A hysterectomy is performed in a hospital with an associated hospital stay. There are numerous surgical risks (most commonly intraoperative bleeding requiring transfusion, nicking vital structures (e.g. bladder, bowel, ureter), infections, surgical adhesions, and wound issues). Even if there are no significant surgical complications there is a long recovery and the woman will often struggle to deal with the loss of her uterus.

Many OB/GYN and other health care professionals believe that the vast majority of hysterectomies are completely unnecessary; particularly when there is an outstanding, non-surgical, outpatient option Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) which allows women to get the relief they are looking for without losing their uterus.

The most common reason why a woman undergoes hysterectomy is for uterine fibroids which are benign tumors. If a patient has uterine cancer, a hysterectomy is appropriate but fibroids are not cancer and they do not turn into cancer.

How does one know if she has fibroids? Fibroids are the most common cause of abnormally heavy periods. They also frequently cause pelvic pain, pelvic pressure, bloating, increased urinary frequency, painful intercourse, and even constipation.

An Unnecessary Hysterectomy Can Be Avoided

Most women who’ve had a hysterectomy for fibroids did not even know that they had other options.

Medical therapies for fibroids can only be used temporarily and are not very effective. One of the best options to treat symptomatic fibroids is uterine fibroid embolization or UFE. This minimally invasive procedure is much safer than surgery and is performed as an outpatient, and may even be done in the office setting. The procedure treats all of the fibroids at the same time which means that the patient typically only needs the procedure once. This is compared to surgical myomectomy which has a much higher rate of recurrence as the surgeon can’t typically remove all of the fibroids. The fibroids that remain after a myomectomy will grow, and the patient will likely need another procedure; often within 5 years.

There are elevated risks and long-term side effects associated with a hysterectomy vs. uterine fibroid embolization. UFE is not a surgical procedure, so there is significantly less risk involved during and after the procedure. UFE is performed under sedation and not under general anesthesia, so there are fewer side effects immediately after the procedure.

Research has shown that a woman’s uterus plays a part in other women’s health issues and is not simply there for reproduction. With UFE, there is no need to worry about complications regarding sexual dysfunction, urinary incontinence, increased risk for heart disease, or memory issues because, unlike a hysterectomy vs.UFE, the uterus is left unharmed and in place. A hysterectomy vs. UFE removes any possibility of becoming pregnant, while many women have become mothers after undergoing uterine fibroid embolization. Dr. Lipman has an entire wall of baby pictures as proof.

letters and baby pictures from happy moms who had UFE
Letters and baby pictures from happy moms who had UFE

Recovery after UFE vs. hysterectomy is much shorter and does not involve any time in the hospital. The procedure itself takes less than an hour, and patients return home to recover the same day. The only evidence of the procedure that they have left when they leave the office is a small bandaid on the inside of their upper thigh. After the UFE procedure, most patients are uncomfortable for a few days to a week, but the doctor will provide medication and detailed aftercare instructions to help ease the discomfort. The recovery from a surgical hysterectomy can range anywhere from four to ten weeks, depending on the nature of the surgery.

Any woman with symptomatic fibroids can have embolization regardless of the size or the number of the fibroids. If you’re suffering from fibroids and have been told you need a hysterectomy, get a second opinion from the Atlanta Fibroid Center. We’re world-renowned experts in the nonsurgical treatment of uterine fibroids. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of UFE, contact Atlanta Fibroid Center at 770-953-2600 or make an appointment online at www.ATLii.com.

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