A vaginal repair is a surgical procedure in which a gynecological surgeon makes a repair to the vagina of a patient to correct a problem such as prolapse or fistula. A related procedure is vaginoplasty, a cosmetic procedure which is intended to change the shape or appearance of the vagina for aesthetic reasons. Sometimes the two procedures may be combined. Patients who need a vaginal repair should plan on spending several days in the hospital.
One reason to need a vaginal repair is a fistula, in which a connection is created between the vagina and the bladder or the vagina and the rectum. Fistula repair surgeries close this opening so that the patient will not experience incontinence, infections, and pelvic pain. Another type of vaginal repair surgery known as vaginal wall repair is used to treat prolapse.
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Prolapse occurs when an organ falls out of position. In vaginal vault prolapse, the vagina itself moves out of place and the inside of the vagina may be compressed, with vaginal tissue sometimes protruding from the vulva. Women can also experience bladder prolapse, in which the bladder pushes into the vagina. Prolapse causes discomfort and can lead to incontinence, pelvic pain, and abnormal vaginal bleeding as well as discomfort during sex.
In a vaginal repair for prolapse, the surgeon tightens and lifts the vaginal wall. The surgeon may also make repairs to other organs in the pelvis. These organs are interconnected and a prolapse can involve multiple organs which require repairs. Depending on the nature of the procedure, a urologist may also be involved to address issues with the bladder and urethra.
Vaginal repairs are usually performed under general anesthesia and patients will need to stay in the hospital for the first few days of recovery so that they can be monitored. The patient may be given a catheter to drain urine and this will also be used to monitor urine output to confirm that the patient is healing well. The hospital also offers advanced pain management options which can help address surgical pain experienced in the days immediately following surgery.
Patients preparing for a vaginal repair should ask about the risks of the procedure and the expected outcome of the surgery. They will also meet with an anesthesiologist to discuss anesthesia and pain management options and screening tests will be performed to check for any risk factors which could complicate the surgery. Patients may want to ask about healing time and care directions during recovery so that they know what to expect.