Urethral slings are used to treat stress incontinence (SI). SI is usually caused by sagging of the urethra and/or bladder neck, or by problems with the sphincter (muscular outlet of the bladder). This involves placing a â€œslingâ€ around the urethra to lift it into place and to exert pressure on the urethra to aid in holding the urine.
The advantages of sling surgery are:
- Usually done in an outpatient setting (go home the same day)
- Quick recovery time
- Very little to no pain
- Extremely effective in eliminating incontinence
What are the risks and possible complications?
- Injury to surrounding area
- Mesh erosion or rejection of the sling material (the sling material may wear away the tissue of the urethra or vagina)
- A small percentage of patients will have trouble urinating immediately following the procedure and may need a catheter until normal bladder emptying is established. This catheter is usually removed 3-7 days post-op.
What can I expect during recovery?
Most women return home within 24 hours of the procedure. You will be sent home once you are feeling well and are able to urinate. If you need pain relief, mild analgesics are usually enough. It is important to rest after the operation and allow yourself to heal.
General recommendations are:
- Restrict activity for first 2 weeks following procedure
- Weeks 2-6, light activity only
- Avoid heavy lifting for 6 weeks. This includes shopping bags, laundry baskets, and children.
- No sexual activity for 6 weeks
- No sports or strenuous exercise for 6 weeks