Understanding Mesh Removal
I am really, really concerned about the things that are happening right now that there are so many lawsuits against all mesh manufacturers. As you know this blog is not about these suits, nor the law, but it is a place for women to learn about what has happened, when the medical world has closed their doors on them. Why am I concerned? Because women who are mesh injured are very unhappy at the new statements written by paid spokespersons telling women basically that THEY should find out about any doctor before they have any medical procedure. Injured women are so concerned because their injuries are lifelong injuries and they feel they are NOT responsible for their choice of doctor. They feel the mesh manufacturers are because they sell these products to any doctor or hospital and have far better access to knowledge of a doctor’s background than any woman has. They are right. Patient confidentiality excludes access to other women to ask how they are doing and if they have/had complications.
These statements on the Internet are in fact carefully worded to let women know they will be responsible for any harm that comes to them in the future because of these products. Women will now be handed pamphlets with carefully worded statements first explaining what urinary incontinence is, causes, and then on to other treatments there are before surgery. I decided to go to Google and pull up a pamphlet to read one. You can do the same by putting in ‘pamphlet for bladder sling surgery’. I am not going to state which one this is, but here is what you will find when the message begins about a sling.
A surgical approach that is widely used today to restore continence involves the implanting of a urethral sling. A sling is a narrow strip of material that the surgeon positions under the urethra to support its natural tissues, allowing it to function as intended. The implanted sling acts much like a hammock, providing extra support of the urethra to prevent accidental leakage.
There are two basic types of urethral slings used today; man-made and natural tissue. Both types work very well in restoring continence, so your doctor’s choice of sling is generally based upon what he or she believes is the right material for your anatomy.
In most cases, a urethral sling can be implanted within about 30 minutes. Placement of a sling is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, often requiring only a single vaginal incision. With some devices, tiny incisions in the abdomen or inner thigh may also be required. Your physician will choose the anesthesia best suited to your condition and general health: either local, regional, or general anesthesia. The sling is inserted under the urethra to provide the necessary support to prevent involuntary leakage of urine, and it then self-anchors securely in place
Risks. As with any surgical procedure, the sling procedure itself has the risk of certain complications such as the use of anesthesia, the surgical approach used, and how pre-existing conditions may affect the outcome. Your physician can further explain your specific risks and can provide a list of warnings associated with the procedure. Like any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with the use of a permanent mesh, man-made or natural tissue implant. Complications can include localized fluid collection (blood, pus, clear serous fluid), erosion of the graft into surrounding tissues, infection, inflammation, pain (including pain with intercourse), perforation of neighboring tissues or organs, difficulty urinating, and failure of the procedure resulting in recurrence of incontinence. Given the permanency of a mesh implant, post-procedure removal of the implant may be difficult. Additionally, repair of stress urinary incontinence using a mesh implant should not be undertaken if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.
I copied and pasted these statements word for word. Then there were written words of benefits of the use of this product and a broad statement about the pamphlet was not a substitute for professional medical care. Done! Finished!
Nowhere on the pamphlet I pulled up did it say that the product was NOT meant for removal. That removing the mesh was so difficult and many doctors will practice this procedure on you, and may injure you permanently far worse than you can imagine. Nowhere on the pamphlet did it say doctors will tell you outright when you want it removed because you are in such agony, that the anchors are in an area with nerves and muscles and one false move and you will be in dire agony. So therefore they can’t be removed.
Just over three years ago, I was never given a pamphlet before my surgery. Never given a name for what was going to happen to me or the product that was going to be used. You can be sure that with all the financial repercussions to these manufacturers, that they will spend money on those willing to write articles to say these are great and wonderful products. It will be cheap and easy protection. These statements otherwise known as articles that are there to help women often come from the leading sources of women’s health. How can the voices of the injured women combat such articles? Well it won’t be easy. The ONLY way is woman to woman. You can share with your friends, sisters, daughters and granddaughters what you know and ask them to pass it on.
It says on this pamphlet ‘your physician can further explain your specific risks and can provide a list of warnings associated with the procedure’. Ask outright for that list! You want it in writing what those risks are including you want him/her to explain IF IT CAN BE REMOVED! I do not want any future injured woman to sit there without any money, insurance, job, partner and lifestyle the way women are today. I can guarantee you your doctor will NEVER put anything in writing. Whatever he/she tells you in the office will be very lacking in reality if you find out later that you’ve become a victim of mesh complications. My suggestion is take a tape recorder with you and tell your doctor you are trying to understand what can be done for you in the event of any complications in the future. I suspect you will be escorted to the door.
The truth is, you are NOT responsible for anything that happens to you because of any medical product. The company is. They need to make sure they have doctors on board who have the utter most concern of their patients in mind. That these doctors will guarantee medical treatment to any woman, even if it is a few years later. If they cannot do that they should not use these products.
Mesh cannot just be removed. IT IS PERMANENT. If you begin to show symptoms of mesh erosion, retention or one of the many, many complications that can arise, then you need him/her to make that guarantee and put it in writing before you have this surgery. This is the only way that you can trust his/her word.
You can fill up the Internet with articles on women’s health sites to block the word of those injured, but you can never take away the truth of mesh complications. This truth is, your whole world will collapse around you, maybe not at first, maybe you feel safe because you got through the first years, but then suddenly, years later when you are finally reaping the benefits of all your hard work and your career is blossoming. You have raised your children and are now ready for all the special days of graduation, weddings and grandchildren. Life has gone exactly the way you planned and then it hits you. That is what is happening to many women with mesh complications. It is far more prevalent that any pamphlet will tell you. So please get educated BEFORE you wind up like many very sick and ill women in the world who don’t have anywhere to turn. That is the legacy of mesh complications.