Why are implants used to treat incontinence?

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Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
There is a small subset of patients with urinary incontinence that is caused by the urethra always remaining "open".  In these women, bulking agents (implants) can be used to inject around the urethra to help coapt or close the urethra at rest, and this will help decrease urinary incontinence.  The most common bulking agent used for these procedures is collagen.  The collagen that is used is similar to collagen that is used for injections around women's lips to help plump the lips up and make them fuller.  The same thing happens when collagen is injected around the urethra.  It helps "plump up" the tissue around the urethra and helps close the urethra.  There are newer medications on the market that have been used and these are Durasphere and Coaptite.  I tend to use these 2 medications more frequently than collagen due to the fact that there is a subset of patients who have an allergic reaction to collagen.  Some patients immune systems metabolize the collagen, and therefore, the collagen does not remain in place for long periods of time; and they will end up again having leakage of urine and have to repeat the surgery.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.