Learn About UFE
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
You or your loved one may have been told a hysterectomy or other surgery is your only treatment option to end your fibroid symptoms. We want you to know you have other choices that don’t require surgery or the removal of your uterus.
One of the most successful non-surgical treatment options is called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). This is a minimally-invasive procedure that cuts off blood flow to the fibroids and causes them to shrink. What you’re left with is relief from painful fibroid symptoms—and your uterus intact.
About Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Is UFE for You?
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is the treatment of choice for our patients. It treats all fibroids at once, avoids the removal of the uterus, requires no hospital stay and takes only 30 to 60 minutes to complete. You may be wondering if UFE is the right treatment option for you. You’re a good candidate for the procedure if you:
- Have symptomatic fibroids that disrupt your life
- Want to keep your uterus
- Don’t want any surgery
- Cannot have surgery due to medical issues
- Need to lessen time away from work and family
- Don’t consider getting pregnant a top priority
If you think you may be a good candidate for Uterine Fibroid Embolization, Dr. Slonim can help educate you about the UFE procedure and further determine if you would benefit from this treatment option.
Benefits of UFE
Interventional Radiologists, such as Dr. Slonim, offer Uterine Fibroid Embolization to treat fibroids without all the risk, pain and blood loss that can occur with surgery. We perform UFE as an outpatient procedure with no more than an adhesive bandage to cover the small puncture. This is in stark contrast to traditional fibroid surgery or hysterectomy that require a much larger incision that is prone to scarring and can result in more complications and longer recovery times with expensive hospital stays.
UFE requires no incision which means it carries lower risks and no need for staples or stitches. The scar from the procedure is so small that you may not even see the site for the placement of the tube after a few months.
Because we have all the necessary technology and safety equipment for UFE, we’re able to perform the procedure in our office rather than a hospital. This greatly reduces costs and allows you to go home the same day.
One of the best features of UFE is that it cuts off blood flow to every fibroid in the uterus, treating all fibroids at one time.
When using UFE to treat fibroids, 90% of women see major improvements in their symptoms. UFE takes care of heavy bleeding, pain, cramping and other life-changing fibroid symptoms.
The recovery time is just 7 to 10 days, so you can get back to your life quickly and with less pain. It is usually a much faster and easier recovery than a hysterectomy or other surgeries.
What to Expect During UFE
The procedure will last about one hour, you will be asleep for the procedure. You can resume light activities as soon as you feel up to it, most women return to work in 7-10 days.
During the procedure Dr. Slonim will make a tiny nick on your left wrist. A very small catheter is inserted through this into your artery. Dr. Slonim uses x-ray guidance to locate the vessels that supply blood to your fibroids. Small particles are injected into the vessels, blocking the blood flow to the fibroids causing them to shrink. We will see you one week after the procedure to assess your recovery. You will have additional post-procedure appointments at one month and four months to follow your progress.
About Uterine Fibroid Embolization
The Road to Recovery
After your Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure, you will need pain medicine and plenty of rest. You can expect to feel better as each day passes and will recover completely after 7 to 10 days. If your work requires heavy lifting, we recommend taking 2 weeks off.
For the first 5 days following UFE, your body will need time to heal. You may have:
- Moderate to severe cramps
- Low-grade fever
- Vaginal spotting or discharge
These are all normal side effects from the treatment. We will give you several medications to help manage these symptoms and make you as comfortable as possible. When your first menstrual cycle returns after UFE it may be heavier than normal, but it will become much lighter. Your other menstrual symptoms will also improve over time.
Follow the steps below for a fast, smooth recovery.
Dr. Slonim will give you prescriptions for pain medications to help with any discomfort you have after the procedure. Check with our staff before you take any additional over-the-counter medications. You can take your pain medicine with food if it makes your stomach upset. If your pain is not under control after the procedure, please call our office so we can adjust your medications.
Walking increases blood flow throughout your body and helps prevent blood clots and constipation.
Try to get some easy walking time in each day and gradually increase the amount you walk.
You may start cardio exercises as soon as you are comfortable with it.
For the first two weeks following UFE, avoid lifting anything more than 20 pounds or anything that would make you strain.
This may include lifting a pet or child, grocery bags, laundry or a vacuum cleaner.
You may shower but do not attempt to take a bath, soak in a tub or go swimming for the first few days until your doctor tells you it’s okay.
To avoid pain and infection, avoid sexual intercourse for 2 weeks after the UFE procedure.
After 2 weeks, you may resume intercourse if it’s comfortable for you.
Wait until your body has more time to heal if you have discomfort.
You may have been told to stop taking some medications, such as blood thinners, several days before the UFE procedure. Your doctor may also advise you to discontinue these medications for a short period after UFE. If you have diabetes, you will have to modify your medicine schedule with our staff.
For the first day or two after your UFE, your stomach will be sensitive so you may want to eat foods that are easy to digest. Drink plenty of fluids and eat only if you are hungry.
Irregular bowel movements are common several days after your UFE treatment. Take the stool softener that is prescribed. If you become uncomfortable because you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, you may take a mild laxative.