Vaginal Tape & Slings

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Sling procedures are surgeries that treat stress urinary incontinence symptoms. Your doctor places a piece of tissue or artificial mesh underneath the urethra. It acts as a layer of support so that the urethra is closed off when there is increased pressure in the abdomen (laughing, coughing, sneezing and exercising).

Materials commonly used include your own fascia (the tough covering around muscles), a piece of animal tissue specially treated for human use or polypropylene mesh.

Common sling procedures include:

  • Tension-free vaginal tape (TVT/sling)
  • Pubovaginal sling uses a piece of a your own fascia or piece of animal tissue. It requires a small abdominal incision ranging from 2-4 inches on the lower abdomen.
  • Transobturator tension-free vaginal tape (TVT-O) also uses a mesh but differs slightly from the TVT. Your doctor places the mesh around the pubic bone and exits at the crease of the inner thigh.

You may benefit from this outpatient procedure if you experience urine leakage when you laugh, sneeze or cough.

What to Expect

Typical recovery for the procedure is 2-3 weeks. During the first week you may need medications to manage your pain.

Advantages to the TVT/sling procedure include: 

  • Small vaginal incision, no abdominal incision,
  • No hospital stay (same day surgery or just overnight)
  • Faster post-operative recovery time (average 2-3 weeks or less)

You can expect to resume normal physical activity within hours of the procedure, and you may be able to return to work between 2-3 weeks after surgery. You may resume sex after six weeks.

You'll have a follow-up appointment with your physician between 4-6 weeks after surgery.

Potential Complications

Your surgeon will explain any possible risks from this surgery, including:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to bladder
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder
  • Blood clot in the legs or lungs (rare)