UFE vs. Hysterectomy: Fibroid Treatment
When it comes to UFE vs. Hysterectomy, it can be difficult to determine which is right for you. If you’re experiencing painful or uncomfortable uterine fibroid symptoms, you may have heard that surgery is your only option for relief. Over 62% of Americans at risk for fibroids have never heard of non-surgical fibroid treatment options, and more than 20% of fibroid sufferers believe that hysterectomy is their only treatment recourse. In fact, many patients say they avoid treating their fibroids because they are unaware of other options. Many are shocked to learn that non-surgical treatments have been available for years.
At USA Fibroid Centers, we make it our mission to give our patients as much information about uterine fibroids as possible, empowering them to make the best decision for their individual needs. Invasive surgery like hysterectomy should only be considered when other treatment methods have not been effective. It’s important to learn all the treatment avenues available before making your decision.
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop on the uterus. Although benign, they can negatively impact your life by causing a range of painful, uncomfortable, and inconvenient symptoms. Although some women never experience any symptoms at all, common ones include:
- Pelvic or lower back pain
- Excessive or abnormal bleeding
- Anemia-induced fatigue
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Frequent urination
- Severe cramps or pelvic pressure
- Enlarged uterus
Years ago, removing the entire uterus was the only way to treat uterine fibroids. But now, there are alternatives that are non-surgical and effective at relieving symptoms. UFE offers the best alternative to surgery when it comes to treating fibroids. We believe patients shouldn’t have to choose between losing their uterus and gaining permanent relief from fibroid symptoms.
Risks of Hysterectomy vs. UFE
Uterine Fibroid Embolization uses local anesthesia, along with a light sedative, to keep you calm and comfortable throughout the procedure. Because UFE does not involve general anesthesia, there are inherently fewer risks involved than surgery.
While complications from UFE are highly unlikely, complications from fibroid surgery may include:
- Organ damage
- Problems with the bowels or urination
- Painful abdominal scar tissue
- Pelvic pain
- Early menopause symptoms
- Scarring and tissue damage
Hysterectomy has some additional longer-term health effects to be aware of, such as:
Increased Risk of Heart Disease and Related Conditions:
Research shows that a hysterectomy can increase your overall risk of cardiovascular diseases and particular metabolic conditions. Patients under 50 years old are especially likely to be diagnosed with heart disease after undergoing fibroid surgery.
Risk of Spreading Uterine Cancer:
One procedure — known as laparoscopic power morcellation — has been linked to the spread of uterine cancer. During this procedure, surgeons use a medical device to break the fibroids into pieces. This makes removal through the abdomen easier. If the patient also has uterine cancer, this procedure can spread the cancer to the abdomen and pelvis.
Long Recovery Time:
Major surgeries are difficult on the body and require more recovery time that has to be monitored closely by hospital staff. After undergoing a hysterectomy, patients may remain at the hospital between two to three days. Once at home, the recovery time for a hysterectomy is typically between six to eight weeks. During this time, you may have trouble going back to work and performing routine tasks. Many doctors recommend to avoid lifting for four to six weeks following a hysterectomy or myomectomy. The extended post-surgical pain can also take a toll on your body and mental health.
Inability to Have Children:
Due to the fact that hysterectomy either partially or fully removes the uterus, patients will not be able to bear children in the future. While a myomectomy leaves the womb intact, the procedure can also cause uterine problems such as uterine infections and scarring, which can affect future pregnancies and overall fertility.
While a hysterectomy completely removes the risk of fibroid regrowth, women who undergo other surgical options can still suffer from fibroid symptoms in the future. Studies show that up to one-third of women who have a myomectomy will need future surgery due to new fibroid growth. UFE has a 95% success rate.
UFE vs. Hysterectomy: Additional Considerations
Because heavy menstruation and anemia are common fibroid symptoms, fibroid sufferers might think they need to get a hysterectomy for iron deficiency treatment. While hysterectomy for iron deficiency and fibroids may be one potential treatment option, the truth is that you may continue to have low iron levels after hysterectomy because of surgical bleeding. A non-surgical method like Uterine Fibroid Embolization may be a better choice than hysterectomy for iron deficiency and fibroid treatment.
During a UFE procedure, the interventional radiologist will make a small nick in your upper thigh to place the tiny catheter. Once the catheter is in place, they will inject beads of embolic agents into your blood vessels to block the supply of blood to the fibroids. This small cut is covered by a bandage, and no stitches are needed. The chance of developing scar tissue within the abdomen is minimal because the doctor performs the procedure within the artery.
Surgeries such as hysterectomy or myomectomy cause external scarring either on your abdomen, uterus, or vagina.
Many people suffering from symptoms of fibroids are afraid to seek medical treatment out of fear of losing their uterus in a hysterectomy. According to the National Institute of Health, more than 200,000 hysterectomies are performed each year for uterine fibroids. While fibroids can be challenging no matter the treatment method, it is important to know that unlike hysterectomy, the UFE procedure does not prevent or decrease fertility. You don’t have to choose between accepting pain and giving up the potential of having children.
Learn More About UFE
At USA Fibroid Centers, we offer a minimally invasive and non-surgical treatment for fibroids. Uterine Fibroid Embolization takes 45-60 minutes, during which our leading vascular specialists use an image-guided catheter to reduce the size of the fibroid tumor by blocking the supply of blood to the fibroid. The treatment is performed as an outpatient procedure, so you should be able to go home the same day after treatment.
After UFE, you will experience:
- Manageable menstrual cycle: After a UFE procedure, the menstrual period becomes shorter and lighter, and pain during menstruation tends to decrease.
- Higher energy levels: As the menstrual bleeding becomes lighter and anemia goes away, you should regain your former energy levels.
- A more confident you: Many people suffering from fibroids avoid wearing lighter colors because they are afraid of their clothes getting stained due to unpredictable menstrual flows. After a UFE procedure, you can regain your confidence and base decisions on what you feel like instead of your flow.
- Positive self-body image: Patients suffering from fibroids sometimes develop poor self body images due to the enlarged abdomen that can be caused by larger fibroids. After a UFE procedure, many report feeling they are in better shape.
- Improved sex life: Due to the reduction in the size of the fibroid tumor, most patients are able to return to a better quality, pain-free sex life.
- A happier you: Patients treated via the UFE procedure at USA Fibroid Centers share great satisfaction with the results and report feeling hopeful and in control of their bodies again.
Don’t say “yes” to a hysterectomy without knowing all your options. For non-surgical, outpatient fibroid treatment, please visit USA Fibroid Centers, call 855.615.2555, or schedule a consultation to discuss your condition and treatment options.