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Is There an Alternative to Fibroid Surgery?

Posted on June 28, 2024

If you're one of the 26 million women between 15 and 50 that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates is living with fibroids, you may be seeking relief from fibroid symptoms. And, despite what you may have heard, surgical procedures are not your only option. In fact, you can find relief with Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) a minimally invasive alternative to fibroid surgery. While underutilized among minority communities (of all procedures performed in the US, just 46% of women who had UFE were black. And only 14% were Hispanic, meaning we need to do a better job spreading the word about this treatment option.)

Now, those aren't great statistics. But some brave women are sharing their fibroid journeys with others, hoping more fibroid sufferers can find relief without surgery. And, in this week's post, we'll highlight Raquel K., a patient at our sister fibroid center in Houston who came to our interventional radiologists "looking for an alternative to fibroid surgery."

After getting her fibroids diagnosis, Raquel (like many other Black women) thought she'd need myomectomy surgery or a hysterectomy. Luckily, she found out about UFE instead, and decided to proceed with this treatment option.

two women hugging

What is UFE?

UFE is a minimally invasive treatment that provides an alternative to fibroid surgery. Performed as an outpatient procedure, it allows you to avoid overnight hospital stays as well as general anesthesia.

What does the treatment involve? During the procedure, doctors insert a catheter through the left wrist's radial artery. That catheter is then guided to the uterine artery, near the fibroid. At that point, it's injected with embolic particles to deprive the tumor of blood and oxygen. As a result, the fibroids stop growing right away. And, over time, they begin to shrink.

For Raquel, that translated to noticeable relief. She says, "My quality of life has improved greatly since my UFE and I am very happy with my results." But what can you expect after undergoing UFE? Keep reading to find out.

What Happens After UFE

Mild cramping is normal right after the procedure. Still, most women return to work the following day, and are able to resume full activities within two weeks of UFE. And, in the weeks and months that follow, symptoms improve dramatically. About 80% of women who experienced pain during sex reported a noticeable improvement within one year of undergoing UFE, according to this study.

Furthermore, while the first period following UFE may be heavier than normal, within three months of your procedure, heavy bleeding should give way to shorter, lighter periods. Ready to see if UFE is the right alternative to fibroid surgery for your needs? Request a consultation with our experts, and we can review your treatment options together.

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