Health & Medical Kidney & Urinary System

Incontinence Surgery Options

    Bulking Agents

    • This procedure is minimally invasive. It only takes a few minutes for your doctor to complete and can be done with minimal anesthesia. Your doctor will use a cystoscope to examine the area, as well as a needle to inject a bulking agent into various places. This will help your body keep your urethra closed. The bulking agent used may be collagen. Because some people are allergic to collagen, your doctor will do a skin test with collagen first. You may also use carbon-coated zirconium beads as a bulking agent, which will not cause an allergic reaction, or coaptite. The disadvantage to this procedure is that you will need repeat rejections --usually about every 6 to 18 months. Coaptite tends to last longer.

    Sling Procedures

    • There are three variations on this procedure. The basic idea is that the surgeon will use either synthetic material or strips of your own tissue to create a sling to support your bladder and keep your urethra closed. A tension-free sling does not use stitches to attach a synthetic strip of mesh. Your own tissue will be able to hold the sling in place, with the gradual formation of scar tissue securing it better. You may also choose to use an adjustable sling. Just like the name says, adjustable slings are easily adjustable after the surgery, according to your needs. And lastly, a conventional sling requires a larger vaginal incision, as well as an abdominal incision. The two ends of the sling attach to the abdominal wall. With this option, you will need to plan on an overnight hospital stay. The recovery times for the different sling procedures vary; check with your doctor.


    • There are a few other options to consider if neither the sling procedures nor the bulking agents appeal to you. You may choose bladder augmentation, which increases your bladder's size. This is a more complicated procedure, requiring a longer hospital stay and more recovery time. You may also need to use a catheter after this procedure. Another option is sacral nerve stimulation, which is an implanted device. This device continually sends electrical impulses to control the nerves of an overactive bladder. This advantage to this option is that you can choose to use the device externally before deciding whether you'd like to have it implanted.

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