Surgical mesh is designed to be a permanent implant that grows into the body within just a few months after implantation. Removing it can be extremely difficult or impossible. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that surgical mesh removal can cause many complications, multiple surgeries may be necessary, and patients may continue to suffer chronic pain and other problems.
When is Surgical Mesh Removal Necessary?
The most common reason why surgery is necessary to remove mesh is because it erodes into the body and causes organ damage or becomes exposed inside the vagina. Another common reason for removing the mesh is if there is pain, which may be either chronic or only during sexual intercourse.
What Happens During the Surgery?
Surgical mesh removal (also known as “excision surgery”) is a major procedure to remove mesh from the vagina and pelvis. The procedure is performed under anesthesia. Once the patient is asleep, a breathing tube is placed in the patient’s throat, another tube is placed in the stomach to remove gas and reduce the risk of injury, and a third tube called a catheter is inserted into the bladder to drain urine. Compression stockings are placed on the patient’s legs to reduce the risk of blood clots. During the surgery, a surgeon uses a scalpel to carefully cut out (“excise”) as much mesh as possible without causing further damage in the pelvis.
After Surgery to Remove Surgical Mesh
After the surgery, the surgeon may also use a camera to examine the bladder and check for a perforation. The patient will be monitored for recovery for at least one hour before being moved into observation. They may have dietary restrictions (liquid diet), feel abdominal bloating or cramping, suffer pain and nausea, and need to use a catheter and compression stockings until they can walk and urinate normally.