Michelle, 46, has had uterine fibroids for the past 15 years. She says the noncancerous growths have resulted in heavy menstrual bleeding, abdominal pain, urinary urgency, painful periods and discomfort during intercourse. In the past, fibroids that have grown to the size of Michelle’s typically necessitated a hysterectomy – surgical removal of the uterus – however, a new, FDA-approved, minimally invasive procedure called Acessa is changing the game for women suffering from fibroids.
Nearly 75 percent of women will develop uterine fibroids at some point in their lives, typically in their mid-to-late reproductive years. The benign tumors form in and around the walls of the uterus, at varying growth rates, and often cause no symptoms. Risk factors for uterine fibroids include having a family history of the condition and being of African-American descent. Lifestyle habits such as eating a diet high in red meat and regularly consuming alcohol might also increase your risk for developing fibroids. According to the Mayo Clinic, although fibroids don’t usually interfere with pregnancy, they can cause infertility or miscarriage.
OB-GYN Dr. Bruce Lee, creator of the Acessa procedure, explains that the new surgical option involves creating just two small incisions in the abdomen, inserting a needle into the tumor and using radiofrequency energy to destroy it while leaving the uterus intact. The tumor is then reabsorbed into the surrounding tissue and is not likely to return. The procedure allows for a rapid recovery, compared to hysterectomy, a low rate of recurrence and minimal post-operative pain. Dr. Lee believes his procedure can reduce the number of unnecessary hysterectomies performed each year.
Michelle and Dr. Lee join The Doctors onstage, and Michelle says she’s feeling great after undergoing the procedure to remove nine fibroids.
“This is huge,” OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Ashton says. “This can be a game-changer for women.”