What procedures help treat uterine fibroids?

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Greenville Health System
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For many women, treatment of uterine fibroids is accomplished by surgical removal, either by laparoscopy or an open abdominal incision. The goal of both approaches is to reduce the number of fibroids and restore normal anatomy as best as possible. The advantages of laparoscopy are less scar tissue formation and a faster return to normal activities afterward.
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There are a number of procedures that help treat uterine fibroids. It is important to remember that prior to procedures there are less invasive ways to treat fibroids that should be tried first.
  • Diet/exercise/weight loss: The risk for uterine fibroids is low for a woman <120 lbs. Her risk will increase 21%/22lb weight gain. Add "anti-estrogenic" foods to your diet. Flavonoids found in fresh fruit & vegetables, chocolate, and red wine block an important enzyme is estrogen biosynthesis. Limit red meat, dairy, and caffeine.
  • Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or tranexamic acid (which has specific effects on lining to decrease heavy flow) or oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) can be tried.
The procedures that help treat fibroids are divided into non-surgical procedures and surgical procedures. The 2 most notable non-surgical procedures are Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), also known as Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE), and MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS). The 2 procedures can be performed as outpatients. UFE will treat all of the fibroids in the uterus, while MRgFUS can treat 1 large or up to 3 small fibroids. Recovery periods are slightly longer with UFE (4-5 days vs. 1-2 days). Insurance routinely covers UFE while very few insurances cover MRgFUS.
The 2 surgical procedures to treat fibroids are myomectomy (surgically removing as many of the larger fibroids as possible and sewing the uterus together) and hysterectomy (surgically removing the uterus with or without the ovaries). Due to the fact that fibroids are benign, the high success rate and patient satisfaction of UFE, and the consequences of women with benign disease that undergo hysterectomy, women should think long and hard before proceeding with hysterectomy versus other less invasive options.
There are different types of operative procedures which include traditional open incision or laparoscopic. Most surgical procedures are done open which have longer recovery times (6-8 weeks) than the less invasive surgical options (3-6 weeks). Laparoendoscopic single site surgery (LESS) and Robotic are subsets of laparoscopic surgery and trials are underway in an attempt to show advantages over laparoscopic. These have a steep learning curve and are significantly more expensive than regular laparoscopic surgery which should be kept in mind.

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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.