If you’ve been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, you may be considering fibroid surgery. Perhaps you’ve even been told that hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus, is your only treatment option. We have good news: The reality of the situation is that you have other options. At USA Fibroid Centers, we aim to educate on all available fibroid treatments, both surgical and non-surgical.
If you’re not sure whether you should pursue fibroid treatment at this time, we generally recommend doing so if your career, social life, personal relationships, or self-esteem are negatively impacted by uterine fibroid symptoms. These may include heavy bleeding, bleeding between cycles, frequent urination, painful sex, low energy, or pelvic pain. Our fibroid specialists can help you discover the numerous benefits of UFE.
What Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization Treatment?
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally-invasive, outpatient procedure that treats uterine fibroids and can alleviate your fibroid symptoms. There is no hospitalization, stitches, or scarring involved. UFE treatment is a great option for women who suffer from fibroids but don’t want to go through major surgery with a long recovery time. It is also a better option than hysterectomy for women who wish to get pregnant in the future. After UFE, your fibroids will shrink, and your toughest symptoms — from heavy menstruation to chronic abdominal pain — can disappear.
What to Expect During a UFE Procedure
First and foremost, we want you to know that a UFE procedure is quick and relatively straightforward. At USA Fibroid Centers, an interventional radiologist will start by giving you a light sedative that helps you relax. General anesthesia is not necessary.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization Technique
You’ll be calm and comfortable the entire time. We will locate your fibroids using advanced ultrasound technology, also known as fibroid mapping. This live guidance allows the specialist to see which arteries are connected to the fibroids, and how many fibroids they will need to treat.
One of our specialized interventional radiologists will then numb your upper thigh, make a small incision, and insert a tiny catheter. A real-time x-ray called fluoroscopy helps guide the catheter into the uterine artery that supplies blood to fibroids. Then, we inject small embolic material into the artery. These particles block the blood flow and keep blood from getting to your fibroids, causing them to shrink. Without a steady supply of oxygenated blood, the fibroids begin to starve and die. The injected embolic material remains permanently in the blood vessels at the fibroid site; therefore, the likelihood of the same fibroid returning to its normal size is rare.
This FDA-approved treatment is an effective solution for treating fibroid symptoms –– with an 85 to 95 percent success rate. Due to the fact that this a targeted treatment, only the fibroids are affected, meaning the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other surrounding structures are left completely unscathed.
After the particles reach the artery, the interventional radiologist will take the catheter out and put a small bandage over your incision. Stitches aren’t required, and you won’t leave with a scar. The UFE procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the number of fibroids that need to be treated.
Recovery Time: Most women completely recover in 1-2 weeks
Uterine Fibroid Embolization Recovery
On the day of your UFE treatment, we will continue to observe you on-site for a brief recovery period. Then you will go home to begin your recovery and rediscover a new life that isn’t ruled by your fibroid symptoms.
Remember to bring a driver with you, since you will be unsafe to drive yourself home due to mild sedation. In the coming days, you will likely be able to manage any post-procedural pain with over-the-counter medications.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization Recovery Time
Perhaps the most notable aspect of UFE recovery is how quickly women recover. The majority are back to normal activities within only one to two weeks. For comparison, a typical hysterectomy recovery takes six to eight weeks, during which time activity is limited. For example, you can’t lift any heavy objects for a while, or drive while taking prescription pain medications.
Are You a Candidate for a Uterine Fibroid Embolization Procedure?
Your first thought may be, “How do I know if I’m a good candidate for UFE?” We recommend that you consider Uterine Fibroid Embolization if you:
- Are limited to what activities you can do because of heavy bleeding or pelvic pain
- Have to plan your day around being close to a restroom
- Are constantly buying and using an excessive amount of tampons or pads, or having to layer to prevent bleeding through
- Constantly worrying about bleeding through your clothes in public
- Forced to miss work due to pelvic pain, pressure, or cramps
- Can’t wear your normal size in pants due to a protruding belly or abdomen
- Are unable to wear white, or light colored clothing
- Constantly taking over-the-counter pain medications to manage pain
It’s very important to talk to a fibroid specialist to learn more about non-surgical, outpatient fibroid treatment before making any treatment decisions. After all, some fibroid treatments –– such as hysterectomy –– have lifelong implications that need to be carefully weighed and considered.
UFE, on the other hand, is a relatively low-risk procedure compared to fibroid surgeries like hysterectomy or myomectomy. Some of the benefits of a UFE procedure include that there are no incisions, it’s less invasive than surgery, and it requires a shorter recovery time. The biggest risks include infection or damage to the blood vessel.
Before UFE treatment, one of our interventional radiologists will walk you through the entire procedure and answer all questions regarding treatment, risks, benefits, and recovery. We want you to feel as informed and comfortable as possible when choosing fibroid treatment.
After UFE treatment, you can look forward to:
- Less pain, if any
- Lighter periods
- More energy
- Less frequent urination
- Less pain with sex, if any
Contact USA Fibroid Centers
If you’re ready to start feeling better today, USA Fibroid Centers can help. With UFE, you can quickly get your life back and enjoy every day without the symptoms of fibroids. Contact us today or read our guide on UFE to learn more.
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