Every day women like you with uterine fibroid symptoms are looking into options for treatment. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths inside a woman’s uterus. Researchers estimate 70-80% of all women develop fibroids between 35 and 54. However, fibroids can occur in women younger than 35 and until menopause. In the past, women diagnosed with fibroids were commonly offered few options to manage symptoms: myomectomy, hysterectomy, or handle the pain. Thankfully now high on the list for avoiding fibroid surgery is a minimally invasive procedure known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). This revolutionary procedure restricts blood flow to the fibroids, causing the fibroids to shrink and die. One question asked frequently by patients is “how will I feel after fibroid embolization?”
When performed by a board-certified interventional radiologist who specializes in UFE like Dr. Suzanne Slonim, like Dr. Suzanne Slonim, medical director and founder of Fibroid Institute Dallas, many patients experience a high success rate with minimal discomfort.
Benefits of UFE include:
- No incisions, which means no surgical scarring
- In-office procedure instead of hospital stay
- No blood transfusions
- Recovery time is 7-10 days
- All fibroids are treated at the same time
- Patient keeps her uterus
- Avoid side effects of pharmaceutical hormone therapies
- Over 90% of patients see dramatic improvement in symptoms
- Pregnancy may still be possible
What Happens During the Procedure?
During UFE, Dr. Suzanne Slonim utilizes X-ray guidance to locate the fibroids and blood vessels feeding them. She inserts a small catheter into the radial artery at the patient’s wrist. She then advances it to the location of the blood vessels feeding the fibroids. She injects tiny particles called Embosphere to block the blood flow to the fibroids, causing the fibroids to shrink and die.
Patients can expect to be comfortable during the procedure, as it is performed under anesthesia. There are no incisions and patients go home same day.
What Can I Expect After Fibroid Embolization?
You can expect to be fatigued and have mild to moderate cramping in the lower abdominal region because of the fibroids shrinking internally. You will need to take it easy for the first two to four days after the procedure. During recovery patients may have mild vaginal discharge, some nausea, and a low-grade fever. This is normal and should not be a cause for concern unless the condition does not improve or gets worse. Your symptoms should not limit simple daily activities. You will be able to move around, walk normally, shower, and feed yourself. Cardio exercise is okay as soon as you feel up to it. Other limitations include:
We recommend patients stay home from work for one week following the procedure. While some women feel ready to resume daily activities as early as three days after the procedure, most do not feel back to normal for seven to ten days.
Fibroid Surgery Recovery vs UFE Recovery: What’s the Difference?
When compared to the recovery associated with invasive fibroid surgery such as myomectomy and hysterectomy, patients report an easier, faster experience after having fibroid embolization. There is no hospital stay with fibroid embolization, and your ovaries and uterus remain untouched. As a result, patients go home the same day and typically recover within seven days. Conversely, there is a hospital stay with surgical procedures where all or part of the ovaries and uterus are removed. Generally, it can take weeks to recover. During this time, you will need to rest at home and avoid any activity such as doing housework and lifting anything heavy for the first two weeks.
Here is a breakdown of each surgical procedure’s estimated recovery time:
- Abdominal hysterectomy – Average hospital stay is 2-3 days. Complete recovery takes 6-8 weeks.
- Vaginal or laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH) – Most women go home the same day or the next. Full recovery will take about 2-8 weeks
- Laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LSH) – Recovery is 6 days up to 4 weeks.
- Myomectomy open surgery – Average hospital stay is 2-3 days. Full recovery will take about 4-6 weeks.
- Laparoscopic myomectomy – Most women spend 1-3 days in the hospital. Complete recovery takes 2-4 weeks.
The above only represents the time it takes to heal from fibroid surgery. In addition, after a hysterectomy your body will continue to adjust as you experience menopause symptoms ranging from hot flashes to mood swings and changes in hormone levels. You may also have vaginal dryness, changes in sexual desire, and an overall sense of loss knowing that you have lost your ability to have children. Patients do not experience these bodily changes with the UFE procedure.
Will I Have Pain During Fibroid Embolization Recovery?
From a pain standpoint, with 25+ years’ experience and having performed more than 30,000 procedure, Dr. Slonim developed a highly specific pain management algorithm. As a result, her patients report little to no pain at all when they follow her recommendations. Here are what a few patients said about their experience after the UFE procedure, and you can read more on Google:
“I did not want to have a hysterectomy so any options that were being offered as an alternative I was open to research. I was treated for Fibroids by Fibroid Embolization. Ten months to date, I went into my well woman examination with a follow up ultrasound which indicated that the procedure was a Success!!!!! Dr. Slonim followed up afterwards with me via personal phone calls and text messages to be sure even during the pandemic that I was not experiencing any setbacks or complications”. – Foxie
“I had a quick recovery and when I was unsure of symptoms I was having I was able to get a hold of Dr. Slonim right away. My quality of life has improved greatly—no more pain, heavy bleeding, or having to “hide out” for days.” – Margaret
“Update: 12 Days after procedure. I was able to walk and climb stairs with no discomfort the day of procedure and since. My recovery has been relatively pain free. The bloated stomach I’ve been carrying for 3 years has reduced from looking 9 months pregnant to almost no bloating. Very excited to report I finally had a normal light period with no cramping, additionally no longer anemic. I was able to start doing light cardio two days ago without any discomfort. I literally have my life back and I finally feel hormonal balance.” – Ness
“After reading about this procedure on the internet, I almost cancelled due to fear of the recovery.** What a mistake that would have been! I am 5 days post procedure and am recovering easily. I had and still have almost no pain.” – Melody
**It is important to note that because of Dr. Slonim’s custom pain management protocol and other unique benefits offered by Fibroid Institute Dallas, patients enjoy a high-touch concierge experience. In fact, patients travel from out of state just to see Dr. Slonim, a national advocate for fibroid treatment without surgery.