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Risks & Complications, The Problem with Mesh

10 Good Reasons to Avoid Mesh

If you are wondering whether to have synthetic mesh inserted for stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse, then you may wish to consider these ten good reasons for avoiding mesh.  Here are ten very good reasons below to avoid mesh:

  1. It’s a flawed product.  Basically, vaginal mesh is a cheap woven plastic material which does not belong inside the human body; it may produce chronic inflammation, and it can degrade, shrink and move inside the body, wreaking havoc as it goes. It is linked to autoimmune reaction in some women, and the long term effects of having the product inside the body are not known, as it is a relatively new product.
  2. It’s a flawed procedure.  Firstly, mesh is usually placed via the vagina which is not a sterile area and this may result in infection.  Secondly, large steel needles (which lead the way for the mesh) are blindly inserted into the retropubic or obturator space leading to potential nerve or organ damage.
  3. It’s experimental.  There’s not enough data on mesh surgery to evaluate its safety and reports are now emerging of more and more women being harmed by mesh.  There are no national registries of mesh surgery.  New mesh products are coming on to the market regularly.  In the UK, we do not even know on what grounds each mesh product is approved.  If you have this surgery, you become a live test subject for the mesh product you are receiving.
  4. It’s a permanent medical device.  You may not be aware of this simple fact – many women aren’t, believing it to be just a soft supportive tape.  Your surgeon may have neglected to mention that it’s intended to be a permanent implant.  Once it’s inside your body, it’s in for life even if it doesn’t work.  Once it becomes enmeshed in your tissues at around 6 weeks, it can be difficult to remove if you have any problems.
  5. It’s no more successful than non-mesh surgery yet poses additional risk.  Studies quoted by NICE do not demonstrate any significant benefit to having mesh and yet NICE promote this procedure on the grounds that it saves the NHS money.  There is evidence that mesh poses additional risk, in particular the risk of erosion and damage to organs, and these risks are lifelong.
  6. Patient selection is a myth.  Doctors rarely practise careful patient selection as advocated in many studies on mesh, and even if they claim to do so, there seems to be no agreement on what makes the ‘perfect’ mesh candidate.  As the operation has grown in popularity, so has the range of patients deemed eligible for this so called gold-standard treatment.  Some studies have described risk factors (such as a slow flow) which may affect success but whether surgeons take note of these or just ‘suck it and see’ is another matter.
  7. Surgical expertise is a myth.  The art of sling surgery is in the correct placement and precise tensioning of the sling – that’s how all sling surgery works.  Too tight and you have voiding problems.  Too slack and the sling won’t be effective.  The law of averages means some doctors will be better than others but some will be worse and even the ‘best’ surgeons will get it wrong from time to time.  Plus, there’s no guarantee who will operate on you once you are under anaesthetic.
  8. Mesh erosionis a very unpleasant consequence of mesh surgery and can result in pain, infections and difficulties with intercourse.  If the serrated edges of the mesh begin to poke through your vaginal tissues, not only is it painful for you, but it could lacerate your partner’s penis.  If you thought ‘vagina dentata’ was the stuff of science fiction horrors, think again.
  9. Difficulties with bladder emptying and storage may be permanent and disabling – there may be a long term need to catheterise or you may develop irritative symptoms or urge incontinence which you never experienced before.  You may require further surgery to remove the mesh, that’s if you can find someone who recognises your problems as mesh-related and who can safely remove the mesh for you.
  10. Pain in the vagina, pudendal region, pubic region or groin and even buttocks, thigh and legs can be another very unpleasant consequence and can result from a wrongly-placed or over-tight sling, or from nerve damage or irritation, or from infection or eroding mesh. This pain might not go away.

Don’t rush in to mesh surgery – make sure you have all the facts because the surgeon might not give you them.  You don’t have to agree to having mesh.  Ask about alternatives.

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Discussion

23 thoughts on “10 Good Reasons to Avoid Mesh

  1. What a clever summary of all the research. Thank you so much for your continued vigilance and hard work to bring awareness of the situation with mesh implants. When will we be heard?

    Posted by Liz Reece | October 14, 2012, 8:52 am
  2. Thank you for your work too and for your continued efforts in raising awareness of the problems with mesh surgery.

    Posted by tvtinfo | October 14, 2012, 8:56 am
  3. This is a really informative, to the point list of many reasons why this dreadful product should not be used in such a sensitive area of the female body. Thank you, it’s so important to get the message ‘out there’ before it is too late for other potential victims.

    Posted by Jill Lott | October 14, 2012, 11:55 am
  4. Thank you, it really is important that women inform themselves about this product because, sadly, we can no longer rely on those people and authorities who are charged with protecting us to fulfil their obligations and to keep us from harm.

    Posted by tvtinfo | October 14, 2012, 12:41 pm
  5. Perfect description of MESH ! If I had only seen this or had been shown this information 3 years ago … I would not be heading to UCLA for mesh removal October 29th. I have all the bad reactions to this so called great medical device…. Do not ever get mesh put in you! It is a ticking time bomb waiting to kill or maim…. I will be printing off your info to get the word out..thanks

    Posted by Dawn | October 14, 2012, 10:25 pm
  6. I am a nurse and mesh injured patient. This is well written, perfect, and 100% accurate. I can’t imagine any lady opting to have this implanted torture device in her body after reading this. Heed the warnings. Do not become a mesh statistic.

    Posted by Denise Jacobs | October 15, 2012, 12:00 am
  7. Thanks for your comments, Dawn, I think we could all say the same! Good luck with the mesh removal, hope all goes well.

    Posted by tvtinfo | October 16, 2012, 7:22 pm
  8. Thank you, Denise, I wanted to summarise all the issues “in a nutshell”. I hope that anyone considering mesh will certainly be better informed and heed the warnings, as you say.

    Posted by tvtinfo | October 16, 2012, 7:25 pm
  9. Thanks Dawn! How are you after surgery? Do you have pain? Are you incontinent?

    Posted by Joy | December 3, 2012, 9:02 pm
  10. i am a60 year old male suffering intense pain in the abdominal and groin area since having an inguinal hernia operation with mesh two years ago I am receiving no support from the surgeon.Is this a common problem with the use of mesh.

    Posted by warren price | December 13, 2012, 1:10 am
  11. Hi Warren, I have heard of people having problems with mesh for hernia repairs – see following story:
    http://meshmedicaldevicenewsdesk.com/patient-profiles/suffering-in-silence-hal-samples-years-of-pain-following-mesh-hernia-repair/

    I think that TVT Mum knows more about mesh used for hernia repair – it might be worth contacting them: https://secure.hosts.co.uk/~tvt-messed-up-mesh.org.uk/index.html

    I am sorry you are having no support from your surgeon – this is a common problem with people finding that their surgeons advocate having surgery with mesh but once you have any problems they don’t want to know, unfortunately.

    I understand that the mesh they use for hernia repair is made of the same kind of material for gynae repairs so it’s not surprising that problems can occur. Are you in the UK?

    Posted by tvtinfo | December 13, 2012, 9:27 am
  12. I had a TVT done on my bladder in 2003, worst thing I ever done, I could not urinate much, had a lot of pain and alot of infections. I started using a cathether in May of 2009 and am still using it. I went to an urologist today Jan/2013 and he is going to do a cystoscopy in Feb to see if he can correct the damage. I am living in Ontario and had the procedure done in Burlington by a doctor from Hamilton.

    Posted by Rose Mary Landry | January 18, 2013, 1:06 am
  13. Sorry to hear about your complications, Rose Mary. It goes to show how long these complications can affect someone, even though at the time of surgery the doctors and hospital literature can lead you to believe these problems are ‘transient’.

    Have you tried visiting the Facebook page of the Canadian victims of transvaginal mesh? I know Canada is a big country but they may be able to advise you or rather give you experiences of doctors in your area.

    Any procedure touted as ‘simple’ and ‘minimally invasive’ should not leave a woman needing to use catheters for the rest of her life. Using a catheter is not pleasant! All gynae surgery has risks, of course, but the number of women I have heard of who are using catheters after TVT just makes you wonder what ridiculous ideas of “success” these surgeons entertain!

    Posted by tvtinfo | January 19, 2013, 12:11 pm
  14. thankyou so much for all your advice, am currently leading up to having this operation but will now cancel out and just try to put up with my problems!!! the better of the two options after reading all of this information. thanks again.

    Posted by thelma thompson | August 11, 2013, 11:10 am
  15. Dear Thelma,
    This is an excellent site and – as a mesh/TVT sufferer, I’m so pleased that you will now cancel the op. Few of us did our pre-TVT research and will always regret that stupidity.

    If you haven’t already, try and arrange to see a pelvic physiotherapist as s/he will help you to improve your muscle tone with focused exercises. We often do them wrong without guidance!

    I know the woman who puts this site together and am sure that she will feel that her work is worthwhile even if it has only prevented one woman from going through what many of us have suffered.
    Warmly, Liz

    Posted by Liz RH | August 11, 2013, 11:23 am
  16. Great list. I’ll be sharing!

    Posted by MeshMeNot | November 3, 2015, 2:22 pm
  17. Lots of women are experiencing Rectal/bowel probs , also as years progress it is not possible to have mesh removed and many women like me it was successful and I only started experiencing probs approx 5/6 yrs later and then ,all my symptoms were never linked to mesh. Although for about last 4 yrs I was complaining of Cheesewire pain/ I was even told to do pelvic floor exercises last year(by a specialist Bowel Dr) which caused me then Urine Urge Probs, It came on Suddenly and severely, again this put Down to a coincidence or that I have , had my mesh over 10yrs /Sent to A urologist ,summer this year , (I thought mesh needed replacing)as over 10yrs inserted, I, he had me Sobbing saying Yr Probs are Not TVT Related/ He was really aggressive , I was in shock , I realise now, when I brought TVt up, he automatically thought I was going to start saying my Probs were due to TVt/ I wasn’t as I had no idea of anything , I was totally Ignorant, I thought it was a tape, that dissolved slowly over time (approx. 10yrs,nothing was left) I believed I was lucky as I had more than 10yrs, I was actually going to ask him Was it possible to have a 2nd TVT inserted (realise the word shld be implanted) mine will never ever be able to be removed, as too many years have passed/ Also TVTO cannot be fully removed, even if you have probs very early on and relate it to the mesh(TVTO)

    Posted by DenisecC | January 22, 2016, 2:04 pm
  18. I had the TVT implanted in 2004. It did partially help my stress incontinence but I had reduced flow. This year 12 years on and aged 70 I have stress and urge problems. I am seeing a Pelvic Floor Physio and after examination of my vagina she told me that I have a prolapse either side of the TVT. Have other women experienced this problem? I’ve found that tightening the pelvic floor muscles seems to constrict the tape, making it more difficult to wee.

    Posted by Anne | December 8, 2016, 6:50 pm
  19. Thank heaven there are sites like this.I was booked to have this operation in two weeks time but having done some research I have now cancelled my operation.I will now ask my GP to make an appointment for me with a physiotherapist. My incontinence is quite severe but I would rather put up with it than suffer any of the horrendous side affects that could occur.

    Posted by jennifer williams | August 2, 2017, 10:07 am
  20. Hello Jennifer, it’s great that you have posted in such a positive way – so delighted that you did your research before committing the having mesh. So many of us wish we had but didn’t…
    There is a lot of evidence of the damage that mesh can do, but for some reason patients are seldom warned of the risks despite many of us trying to work with the NHS for better communication (and preferably stopping its use). There are other sites where women are posting their mesh horror stories – it’s just awful. There are other options with bad SUI and it’s a good idea to start with physical therapy. We are told that GPs have recently been sent a leaflet informing them of what to look for when women present them with mesh related symptoms – sometimes they don’t appear for many years, but the mesh erodes into vital organs and can never be fully removed and life is altered in a painful and limiting way.
    Thanks so much for taking the trouble to tell us that this site is useful.
    Best wishes, Liz

    Posted by LizRH | August 2, 2017, 10:13 am
  21. I had the TVT 3 years ago and am now waiting to see the uroynamic nurse due to reduced and intermittent flow and the feeling of a bulge.
    The same surgeon also carried out a rectocele repair 9 years ago and this has now become an issue again. I had no initial problems but now I feel sick reading all the comments and articles about what very may well happen in the future. I had no idea all these dreadful issues have been happening to so many women until recently. I’m wondering if my chronic lower back is also a result. I’ve been spending hundreds of pounds at the oesteopath and having massages that do not do anything long term. (I’ve also noticed my knuckles have enlarged and I cannot wear most of my rings any longer) Heaven help us all……… AnnM

    Posted by Ann Mintram | October 1, 2017, 8:26 am
  22. Hello Ann, it’s always sad when women find their way to these pages as they are probably searching for something to do with TVT issues they have. It sounds as though you too have some. Hopefully you have read above that you can request from your GP to be referred to a different consultant and you might want to consider this: Natalia Price in Oxford was mine and now has a reputation for her caring approach and skilled removal if necessary. Sohier ElNeil in London’s UCLH is also known to be superb. You can have a private initial consultation which speeds things up if that’s something you can afford, and some patients then decide for removal and are put on the NHS list. Consider whether you want more experienced assessment of your condition than your consultant might give – having heard some horror stories, there are plenty of consultants who deny mesh issues. Of course there could be other things going on for you with the back pain and enlarged knuckles so I don’t want you to think that I’m lumping every symptom into the mesh category. Perhaps finding out what is and is not related would be a useful start.
    Best wishes Liz

    Posted by LizRH | October 1, 2017, 9:51 am
  23. Hi Liz, thank you for taking the time to reply, and for all the information. After having read some of the horror stories of how many many poor women have been and are suffering, I know I’m not in a bad situation at the moment. However, all the niggles over the last few months lead me to believe that I may be going down the same road. I just didn’t think to query the op. My surgeon had a good reputation and was so understanding, telling me how I and all the other women with UI shouldn’t have to suffer and how marvellous the TVT was. I will see what the tests show, I’m also having an MRI scan in November as well as an appt with a physiotherapist all at the hospital. Hopefully things will be a little clearer after that.
    Are there any stories of women who have had this procedure and are very happy with the outcome, even 10 years on because I’ve not come across any!
    Kind regards, Ann

    Posted by Ann M | October 1, 2017, 6:00 pm

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