Bladder Sling Surgery: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Both men and women who suffer from stress incontinence, or bladder leaks that occur when performing certain actions like sneezing, coughing, laughing, or lifting, may consider bladder sling surgery. In most cases, those who receive bladder sling surgery experience less severe, or an end to, stress bladder leaks.

This article will discuss what happens during a bladder sling procedure and how patients can prepare. We will also look at recovery and risks associated with the procedure, and when to talk to your doctor about whether this treatment is right for you.

What is Bladder Sling Surgery? 

Bladder sling surgery, or urethral sling surgery, is a procedure where a surgeon uses a mesh or a sling made of human tissue to support the tube that allows urine to pass the urethra. Bladder sling surgery is used to treat stress incontinence

Procedural Overview

  • Your doctor will be able to assess your situation to determine what type of urethral sling surgery will work best for you. A sling made of either mesh or human tissue will be fitted to your abdominal wall to lift the urethra. Pressure will then be placed on the urethra to allow the bladder to retain urine more easily.

Why Might a Patient Consider Bladder Sling Surgery?

  • A patient may consider urethral sling surgery if other measures to treat urinary incontinence have failed to provide complete relief. 

Types of Bladder Slings 

  • A bladder sling can be made from ligaments, muscle tissue, or synthetic mesh.

Expected Outcomes

  • A patient is expected to make a full recovery within 4-6 weeks and to have significant relief from the symptoms of stress urinary incontinence.

Preparing for Bladder Sling Surgery 

If you feel urethral sling surgery could help improve your quality of life, your physician will perform a consultation and determine if this procedure is right for you. Before your surgery, you will have a preoperative evaluation which will help the surgeon decide on the best means of creating and attaching your urethral sling. At this point, the physician will also offer specific instructions about how to prepare for your procedure.

Before the Surgery 

Always follow your doctor’s specific directions before surgery. In general, you may be asked to:

  • Shower before arriving at the hospital
  • Avoid eating for at least 12 hours before the procedure
  • Empty your bowels
  • Make arrangements for after the surgery

After the Surgery

Make your arrangements for after your surgery. These may include:

  • Arranging transportation to return home
  • Preparing your home and meals so you do not need to exert yourself for 2-4 weeks following the surgery.

The Bladder Sling Surgery Procedure 

Bladder sling surgery is normally an outpatient procedure. After arriving and checking in, expect:

Anesthesia and Incision 

  • Your doctor will administer either general or spinal anesthesia, then the doctor will make either one or two small cuts near the location in your abdomen where the sling will be attached.

Bladder Sling Placement

  • The surgeon will then carefully place the sling in the correct location and tighten it to create pressure that will keep the urethra in a more functional place inside your body.

Suture and Closure 

  • The surgeon will use sutures or skin glue to keep the sling in place and will close up after surgery.

Duration of the Procedure

  • Bladder sling surgery is generally expected to take around 30 minutes.

Bladder Sling Surgery Recovery

Postoperative Care 

Postoperative care usually includes a brief stay in the facility recovery room and management of a catheter. Patients are then typically advised on the following:

  • Pain management
  • Restrictions on activity 
  • Follow-up care and appointments

Bladder Sling Surgery Risks & Complications

Potential Complications Include:

Minimize Risks of Complications By:

  • Following the doctor’s directions about weight and activity restrictions
  • Keeping all of your follow-up appointments
  • Discussing any discomfort or concerns you have right away with your provider

When to Contact a Healthcare Provider

If you have any concerns, unusual or persisting pain after your urethral sling surgery, contact your healthcare provider. If you are unable to urinate comfortably, contact your doctor right away to correct the situation as quickly as possible.

Improve Your Quality of Life

Bladder sling surgery is a useful procedure that can help bring relief to those suffering from stress urinary incontinence. Discuss your condition with your healthcare provider. If you have any questions specific to treatment for stress incontinence, or other treatment options,  please contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn more about our services. We can help you get in touch with a medical professional skilled at answering questions and treating patients with dignity and compassion.