Fibroids, commonly known as fibroid tumors or uterine fibroids, are benign tumors that grow either in or on the uterus. Heavy menstrual bleeding, extremely painful menstrual periods, and pressure in the pelvic area are some typical symptoms of fibroids. Women experiencing symptoms that interfere with daily activities may need to seek fibroid treatment, such as fibroid surgery to shrink or remove the fibroids. Some general types of surgery for fibroids include fibroid embolization, a myomectomy, and a hysterectomy. Expectations from fibroid surgery will vary according to the type of surgery performed.
A fibroid embolization is one common procedure used as a treatment method. The purpose of this procedure is not to remove the fibroids, but to shrink them. Fibroids have a direct blood supply which enables growth. Embolization of fibroids are successful by cutting off this blood supply. During this procedure, arteries that are feeding the fibroids with blood are injected with small particles, resulting in a blockage of the blood flow and causing the fibroids to shrink.
Patients undergoing this procedure can typically expect to be admitted to the hospital as an outpatient. Some form of anesthesia is commonly used to sedate the individual. The expected recovery time for a fibroid embolization is generally short because there are no large surgical incisions made. After the procedure, pain and cramping – similar to that which can take place during a menstrual period – may be expected. Additional expectations may be identified by the doctor performing the procedure.
Another common type of fibroid surgery is a myomectomy. In this surgical procedure, only the fibroids are removed from the uterus while the uterus remains in place. There are three different common ways a myomectomy may be performed. These alternatives include a hysteroscopic myomectomy, an abdominal myomectomy, and a laparoscopic myomectomy. Each of these alternatives will have different expectations.
Hysteroscopic myomectomies may be an option for women who have fibroids inside of the uterus. A patient undergoing this procedure can expect the fibroids to be removed by an instrument called a hysteroscope that is passed through the cervix and into the uterus. An abdominal myomectomy is an open-abdomen surgery to remove fibroids. The patient can expect general anesthesia, an extended hospital stay, and a typical recovery expectation of six to eight weeks following this fibroid surgery. In a laparoscopic myomectomy, the fibroids will be removed through small incisions made in the abdomen and the patient can expect a shorter recovery time than an abdominal myomectomy, but generally a longer recovery than a hysteroscopic myomectomy, which typically requires no incisions
Hysterectomies may also be used as a surgical treatment for fibroids. A hysterectomy involves the removal of the entire uterus. Other female reproductive organs such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries may also be removed during a hysterectomy. As with many abdominal surgeries, the expected recovery period is from six to eight weeks. Women undergoing a hysterectomy should expect to no longer be able to become pregnant once the uterus is removed.
It is important for the patient to understand the type of fibroid surgery to be performed. Of the different types of surgeries, each one will have different expectations. Generally, non invasive procedures such as a fibroid embolization will be a shorter procedure with a shorter recovery period. Open abdominal surgeries such as an abdominal myomectomy will typically include a longer hospital stay and a longer recovery. The physician advising the patient on the best surgery option for fibroid treatment typically will be able to adequately discuss what should be expected from each type of surgery.