Surgery for Urinary Incontinence
URINARY INCONTINENCE SURGERY INFORMATION
This section is for patients having surgery for urinary incontinence only. If you are having surgery for prolapse as well as your incontinence, please read the section on prolapse surgery.
The following is intended as guidance. Circumstances may vary depending on the extent of surgery you have had performed and taking into account other medical factors unique to your condition.
WHAT TO EXPECT FOLLOWING SURGERY TO CORRECT YOUR URINARY INCONTINENCE
Most patients will remain overnight in hospital for 1 night.
When you wake up following surgery you will have a catheter in your bladder. Most patients will have the catheter removed the morning after surgery. Once the catheter has been removed you will be able to pass urine as normal. It is very common that passing urine is slow to get going again after the catheter is removed. The nursing staff will measure the amounts of urine that you pass and they will then place a small ultrasound scanner on your tummy after each visit to the toilet. The scanner tells the staff how much urine you have left in your bladder. This procedure is not at all uncomfortable and once the ward nurses are satisfied that you are emptying your bladder adequately they will stop checking.
Following surgery most patients are not overly troubled by pain but plenty of pain medication will be available if you require it.
Patients will be allowed a light diet a few hours after they have returned from the operating theatre. Be aware that nausea is common after you wake from surgery but passes reasonably quickly. Medicine to treat your nausea will also be available should you need it.
Once your catheter has been removed and you are going to the toilet to pass urine yourself remember to be patient and give your bladder plenty of time to begin its flow and to finish emptying. When you think you are finished and no more is coming, lean forward with your head on your lap and sit like that for another minute. Leaning forward like this will often help you get some more urine out. Then stand up and wash your hands at the basin and then sit down again for another minute to see if there is any more urine that you can get out. The more urine you get out the faster you will recover and the less likely you will get a urine infection. If you feel a stinging or burning sensation when you pass urine, tell your nurse and we will send a sample of your urine to the laboratory for testing. We may start you on an antibiotic. Urinary infections are very common after pelvic surgery.
When you are discharged from hospital you should spend the first seven days at home just resting. You are better to be up and about at home rather than being in bed. However, you should be resting. NO HOUSEWORK , NO LIFTING OF ANYTHING HEAVIER THAN A KETTLE. SHORT WALKS CLOSE TO HOME IS PERMITTED IF YOU FEEL WELL ENOUGH. In terms of pain relief most patients are advised to take 2 paracetamol three times a day for the first five days at home whether they feel they need it or not and provided they are not allergic to paracetamol or have any other medical reasons why they can’t take it.
Do not be frightened if days or weeks after your surgery you notice a gush of blood or fluid from the vagina. This is just things getting back to normal and fluid that was trapped in the vagina during the surgery eventually finds its way out. If you feel pain is increasing, or you develop a fever, or have stinging or burning when you pass urine or if bleeding is persistent then attend your G.P for a check up.
After you are home for seven days, provided you are feeling well enough, you could start light housework and walking outside as much as you like. You could also start driving short distances. Most people are fit to return to work 2 weeks after surgery.
Restrict your exercise to just walking for the first six weeks after surgery. After that, you can resume all other exercises and sport including running. However, people with pelvic floor problems are prone to having a recurrence of their condition; you should AVOID HEAVY LIFTING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
Nothing should go into the vagina for 6 weeks following surgery; this means NO TAMPONS, PESSARIES, BATH WATER, SWIMMING POOLS OR SEXUAL INTERCOURSE. This is because inside the vagina there are many delicate stitches which need time to be allowed to do their job. Showers are fine and then just pat dry with a clean towel and leave things alone.
In terms of foreign holidays most people would be fit to travel overseas two weeks following surgery provided they are mindful not to be carrying heavy suitcases.
THE AIM OF PELVIC FLOOR SURGERY IS TO RESTORE AND ENHANCE YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE, NOT RESTRICT YOU. SO ONCE SIX WEEKS HAVE PASSED FOLLOWING YOUR SURGERY FEEL FREE TO LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL………….JUST WATCH THE HEAVY LIFTING!
FOR MORE SPECIFIC INFORMATION READ OUR SECTION ON EXERCISE ADVICE.