Urethral Sling: Before Your Surgery
What is urethral sling surgery?
Urethral sling surgery is done to treat stress incontinence. A sling is placed around the urethra to support it and help it retain urine. Your urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body.
There are different types of urethral sling surgeries. The two main types of slings are midurethral and traditional. Midurethral slings are made out of synthetic mesh material. Traditional slings are made out of a strip of human or animal tissue.
You may be asleep during surgery. If you are awake, you will get medicine to prevent pain and help you relax.
To do the surgery, the doctor makes small cuts (incisions) in the vagina and lower belly or upper thigh. Then the doctor places a strip of mesh tape or tissue through the incisions and under your urethra like a sling or hammock. Then the incisions are closed with stitches.
You may go home the same day as your surgery. Or you may stay in the hospital overnight. You will probably be able to go back to work in 1 to 2 weeks. But you will need at least 6 weeks to fully recover before returning to all normal activities. You must avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities during this time.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How do you prepare for surgery?
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
Preparing for surgery
- You may need to empty your bowels with an enema or laxative. Your doctor will tell you how to do this.
- Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
- Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
- If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
- Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
- Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
What happens on the day of surgery?
- Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
- Take a shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
- Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
- Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
At the hospital or surgery centre
- Bring a picture ID.
- You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
- The surgery will take about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
When should you call your doctor?
- You have questions or concerns.
- You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
- You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
- You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter S318 in the search box to learn more about "Urethral Sling: Before Your Surgery".
Current as of: November 22, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Avery L. Seifert MD - Urology