Anterior vaginal wall repair is a surgical procedure that corrects a condition called vaginal prolapse. “Prolapse” means to slip out of place. Another medical term for prolapse is cystocele.
In the case of a vaginal prolapse, the bladder or urethra—the tube that carries urine out of the body—slips down into the vagina. Anterior vaginal wall repair surgery tightens the front wall of the vagina. The tightening of the muscles and soft tissues helps the bladder or urethra stay in its proper position.
A number of factors contribute to the formation of a cystocele, or the prolapse of the bladder into the vagina. Women who fall into the following categories are more likely to develop a cystocele that requires anterior vaginal wall repair surgery:
- being pregnant
- delivering a baby vaginally
- being overweight
- straining during bowel movements
- participating in heavy lifting
- having a chronic cough
Lifting properly by bending your knees, treating a chronic cough, and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent prolapse.
Anterior vaginal wall repair is highly successful in most cases, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Many women who undergo surgery show long-term improvement of prolapse symptoms.
In some cases, women who have had anterior vaginal wall repair may suffer from post-operative symptoms and complications, including:
- painful urination
- frequent, sudden urge to urinate
- leakage of urine
- damage to the urethra, vagina, or bladder
Discuss these risks with your doctor before having anterior vaginal wall repair. Most often, the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks.
You will be required to fast for a period before surgery, usually at least eight hours. You should also stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen several days before your surgery date. This will reduce your risk of experiencing excessive bleeding. Ask your doctor about proper medication usage if you take warfarin or other blood-thinning medications.
Surgical repair of the vagina is performed under either a general or spinal anesthetic. Under general anesthetic, you are asleep and experience no pain. Under a spinal anesthetic, you are numb below the waist and unable to feel pain, but you will be awake.
The surgeon will make an incision in the front wall of the vagina. He or she will replace the bladder or urethra to its normal location through the incision. Surgical stitches in the tissues between the vagina and bladder help hold the organs in place. Your surgeon may remove additional vaginal tissue in order to tighten the muscles and ligaments effectively.
You will most likely remain in the hospital for several days following anterior vaginal wall repair. Your bladder will most likely be traumatized by the surgery, and you’ll need to use a catheter for one to two days. A catheter is a small tube that is placed in your bladder to remove urine from your body.
A liquid diet is common after prolapse surgery. Once you are able to urinate and have normal bowel movements, you can resume a regular diet.