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What is vaginal prolapse surgery?

Vaginal prolapse surgery includes various procedures to correct weak or damaged muscles, ligaments and tissues that hold a woman’s pelvic organs in place. Problems with this support system, called the pelvic floor, are common in women who have had children. Vaginal prolapse causes protrusion of the pelvic organs into the vagina, which can lead to urinary incontinence and other problems. 

Vaginal prolapse surgery is a major surgery with serious risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options depending on your circumstances. Consider getting a second opinion about all of your treatment choices before having vaginal prolapse surgery. 

Types of vaginal prolapse surgery

Vaginal prolapse is a condition in which a pelvic organ slips out of its normal place and protrudes into the vagina. Often, two or more pelvic organs are prolapsed, including the bladder, rectum, bowel, uterus, and vaginal vault (upper portion of the vagina). As a result, multiple procedures may be necessary. 

There are many types of vaginal prolapse surgery, also called pelvic organ prolapse surgery and pelvic reconstructive surgery for pelvic organ prolapse. Common examples of vaginal prolapse surgery include:

  • Colporrhaphy treats a prolapsed bladder (cystocele) or rectum (rectocele) by repairing the weakened wall between the vagina and the bladder or rectum. The surgery is performed through the vagina.

  • Hysterectomy treats a prolapsed uterus by removing it.

  • Uterine suspension treats a prolapsed uterus by shortening stretched-out ligaments that support the uterus. Another version suspends the uterus by supporting it with mesh, which is attached to the pelvis.

  • Vaginal vault suspension treats a prolapse of the upper part of the vagina (vaginal vault) by attaching it to strong ligaments toward the back of pelvis. Another version lifts the vaginal vault by supporting it with mesh, which is attached to the pelvis.

Vaginal vault suspension can also treat a uterus, bladder, or small bowel that has slipped out of place due to a weakness in the vaginal wall.

Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: Nov 28, 2012

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Medical References

  1. Abdominal Sacrocolpopexy or Sacrohysteropexy. Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh, NHS foundation Trust.
  2. Colporrhaphy. Encyclopedia of Surgery.
  3. Considering Surgery for Vaginal or Uterine Prolapse? UCLA Health System.
  4. Laparoscopic Uterine Suspension. International Center for Laparoscopic Urogynecology.
  5. Transvaginal Mesh Risks, Warnings and Problems. Drugwatch.
  6. Uterine Suspension. South Coast Urogynecology.
  7. Uterine & Vaginal Prolapse & Treatment. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
  8. Vaginal prolapse surgery. The Royal Women’s Hospital.
  9. Women’s Surgery Center. Pelvic Organ Prolapse.

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