Patient Stories

Robotic sacrocolpopexy puts Denver woman back on track

For Cynthia Aguilar, the difference between always needing to be near a bathroom and feeling free to go on long walks again came in the form of robotic surgery for pelvic organ prolapse. Prolapse is a fairly common condition, with more than 3 million women in the U.S. developing this condition annually.

After gastric bypass surgery in 2014 to help treat diabetes, Aguilar lost 70 pounds. The bad news was that her extra weight had caused the muscles and supportive tissues between her bladder and vagina to weaken, which allowed the bladder to sag out of place and bulge into her vagina. As a result, Aguilar developed overactive bladder and urinary incontinence.

By age 58, Aguilar felt like a virtual prisoner of her fallen bladder.

“It was awful. I couldn’t go for a walk. I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t even sit without nearly constant leakage,” Aguilar says. “My sex life was almost nonexistent.”

Aguilar, a wife of 38 years, mother of two grown children and a registered nurse, knew what the problem was. Pelvic organ prolapse is a common problem for women who have carried large babies, undergone hysterectomy, been obese and entered menopause. In Aguilar’s case, she had gone through all of these.

Aguilar knew it was time to see a urologist. She had the perfect one in mind — her family’s longtime physician, Diane Hartman, MD, a specialist in prolapse surgery.

“She is like family,” Aguilar said. “Her bedside manner is phenomenal.”

Dr. Hartman talked through the treatment options with her and together they decided Aguilar’s best choice would be robotic laparoscopic sacrocolpopexy.

“For women who have no symptoms, a wait-and-see approach is best,” says Dr. Hartman. “But for women like Cynthia whose symptoms have negatively impacted their lives, surgery can restore their health.”

At first, Aguilar had concerns about potential complications with the mesh that would be grafted to pelvic tissues for support. Dr. Hartman explained that the mesh concerns that many women have heard about were from transvaginal prolapse surgery and that complications from mesh used in abdominal sacrocolpopexy are very low. Dr. Hartman performs only abdominal sacrocolpopexy, primarily using robotic surgery.

“She answers all your questions,” Aguilar says of Dr. Hartman. “She doesn’t rush you.”

Reassured, Aguilar had the surgery. While recovery took time and was painful, Aguilar says, it was worth it. “I would do it again,” Aguilar says. “I’m out enjoying my walks instead of going to the bathroom every few minutes.”