Anterior repair is a surgery that involves reconstructing the front wall of the vagina in order to provide better support for the bladder. This type of surgery, also called a colporrhaphy or a cystocele repair, is used to correct a situation where the bladder or urethra has lowered into the area of the vagina. After this procedure, patients can expect to be told to rest and avoid strenuous activity for a period of about six to eight weeks. The first several days of the recovery period are often spent with a catheter in place, and some cases require catheter use for an extended period while the tissues heal. Some types of anterior repair can lead to unfamiliar sensations like tugging in the area of the bladder, and complications are occasionally experienced.
An anterior repair can be as simple as gathering the stretched skin of the anterior vaginal wall and stitching it together. The skin can also be cut so that the excess is removed before stitching to provide added support for the bladder. Anterior repairs seem to have a higher rate of success when a mesh support is used to hold the pelvic organs in place.
Immediately following the anterior repair surgery, the patient will usually experience bleeding for several days and will have a catheter in place for removal of urine. Bowel movements usually don’t resume for at least a few days, and the patient’s diet may be restricted to clear or soft foods until they do. The hospital stay usually lasts two to three days but sometimes longer. After a week or two, most patients are able to return to work as long as there is no physical labor involved. Strenuous activity is off limits for six to ten weeks, and sex is not advised until the patient makes a full recovery.
Similar to any other surgery, there is some risk of infection or of the surgical wound reopening. In rare cases, excessive bleeding or pulmonary embolism — a blood clot that travels to the lungs — may occur. Risks that are specific to anterior repair surgeries include nerve or muscle injury to the bladder, urethra, or vagina. There is a very small chance that the incontinence and frequency of urination symptoms may not be corrected or may worsen after the surgery. In patients who have the variation of the surgery that includes the use of a mesh support, some discomfort may be felt when bending or twisting. Many patients, however, find that they have a significant or even complete reversal of the urinary and sexual problems that led them to seek the surgery in the first place.