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Is Surgical Mesh Safe?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, surgical mesh is a material that is used to strengthen bodily tissues, including bone. It is often used to correct pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence, two conditions which affect numerous women. 

Despite its continued use in the field of medicine, surgical mesh is associated with a number of sometimes serious complications and risks. While some effects are minor, others are life-altering. In some cases, the following complications continue to cause a negative effect well beyond the initial procedure. 

Vaginal mesh contraction

Mesh materials can grow tighter over time, which impacts the tissues the mesh is connected to. As mesh becomes tighter, women often experience pain, discomfort, and vaginal shortening. 

Vaginal mesh erosion

Over time, certain types of mesh can also break down. This is especially true when it comes to non-absorbable synthetic surgical mesh, which is a type of polypropylene, or plastic polymer. As the mesh material wears down, it can become exposed through the skin. This is the most common risk associated with vaginal mesh. 

Organ erosion

In addition to vaginal erosion, mesh can also erode into other organs. This includes the rectum, bladder, and urethra. Organ erosion causes further complications and often requires surgical intervention to treat. 

Other possible effects

Along with the above complications, surgical mesh is also linked to: 

  • Infection 
  • Abnormal bleeding 
  • Painful intercourse 
  • Recurring pelvic prolapse 
  • Anxiety and depression 
  • Urinary issues 

When the above complications are severe, further surgery is usually needed to correct the issue. Once the surgical mesh is removed, additional procedures may be needed to correct the damage it caused. 

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