All You Need to Know About Bladder Tack: A Common Procedure for Urinary Incontinence

Does cold and flu season terrify you, not because of the germs, but because coughing and sneezing make you pee a little?

Do you make every excuse known to man to avoid getting on the trampoline with your kids because you know one jump and you’re going to leak?

If so, you might be a candidate for bladder tack surgery, also known as transvaginal taping (TVT). 

What is a bladder tack and how do you know if you need one? We cover it all in this handy guide.

Table of Contents 

bladder tack surgery

What Is a Bladder Tack?

Stress incontinence affects millions of women. It is a situation where urine leaks from the bladder after sudden pressure like a sneeze, jumping, laughter, or other quick motion. 

Some medications may help and your doctor may suggest some lifestyle changes. But for some women, it is necessary to perform a surgical procedure for them to regain bladder control. 

One option is a transvaginal taping (TVT), often referred to as a bladder tack. Bladder tack is an inpatient procedure that involves the placement of a small piece of mesh to support the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the body. This post will outline what can be expected with this procedure.

When Should a Bladder Be Tacked?

Women who suffer from moderate to severe stress incontinence may be good candidates for a bladder tack. However, your doctor may suggest trying less invasive treatments first, such as:

  • Medications
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Kegel exercises; and/or
  • Lifestyle changes

Bladder suspension (TVT) surgery is a viable option for those that develop stress incontinence as a result of:

  • Childbirth 
  • Menopause
  • Problems with the urethra and bladder muscles
  • Previous surgery

It’s important to speak to your doctor about all of your options for dealing with stress incontinence.

What to Expect From Bladder Tack Surgery

Before you commit to any type of surgery, it’s important to know what to expect. Bladder tack surgery is fairly common and carries few risks, but it does require some prep and recovery.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Happens Before Bladder Tack Surgery?

The operation is usually scheduled in the morning hours. You will not be allowed any food or water past midnight the day before. The doctor will review all regular medications and advise if any of them present potential risks during the surgery, such as blood thinners.

What Happens During Bladder Tack Surgery?

The surgery requires general anesthesia, usually administered intravenously. The medical team will also use local anesthetic at the site of the incisions.

Your doctor will make two small incisions on the abdomen near the pubic hairline, plus one incision inside the vagina below the urethra.

Guiding a small strip of polypropylene mesh tape, this tape will be placed under the urethra. The ends of the mess will be secured to the two abdominal incisions so that the tape is held firmly in place.

The incisions will probably not require stitches and are usually closed with Steri-Strips. Pain medications will be prescribed for any discomfort.

What Happens After Bladder Tack Surgery?

While the actual surgery only takes about an hour, the medical staff will want to observe the patient afterward. 

The patient will likely need to spend the day and night in the hospital, so you should pack an overnight bag. Leave any valuables, including rings, watches, billfolds, etc. at home. 

During the overnight stay, you will have a catheter in the bladder. The hospital staff will use an ultrasound to see how well the bladder is emptying itself. 

If there’s a problem after hospital discharge, the patient may need to self-catheterize herself while the system recovers. This could last a few days or up to a month.

You may resume your standard diet following the surgery and can go back to your regular activities after about two weeks. Heavy lifting and other strenuous activities will have to wait for about a month.

Sexual intercourse, tampon use, or other similar procedures must wait at least one month. You can speak to your doctor about any hygiene concerns and the risk of infection.

what is bladder tack surgery

How Painful Is Bladder Tack Surgery?

Since you’ll be under general and local anesthesia, the actual procedure should be painless. During recovery, you may have some pain at the incision site and could experience abdominal cramping. 

Your doctor will prescribe medications for the pain for the first couple of days or weeks, but you should see your doctor right away if the pain becomes unmanageable. 

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Having Your Bladder Tacked Up?

In most cases, you should be able to return to normal activities, including work, in about 2 to 4 weeks. But, every patient is different, and you may need 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover.

It’s important to avoid any strenuous activities or heavy lifting that might put extra stress and pressure on your bladder during your recovery.

Are There Any Risks to Bladder Tack Surgery?

As with any surgery, TVT comes with a risk of infection and bleeding, and possible complications with the anesthesia, but the risk is small. If you’ve had general anesthesia before and had any adverse reactions or side effects, it’s important to discuss this with your doctor in advance.

TVT also carries a slight risk of accidental damage to your bowel or bladder, and the change in position of your urethra could lead to urinary retention.

Before you’re discharged from the hospital, be sure to discuss any expected changes to your urinary habits as well as any side effects and how to manage them at home.

How Successful is Bladder Tack Surgery?

Bladder tack surgery works in about 80% of cases, but the effects do not last forever. Symptoms can return over time and success rates drop as the number of TVT surgeries you have goes up.

what is bladder a tack

What Are the Alternatives to Having a Bladder Tack Done?

If surgery seems too drastic to help control your stress incontinence, discuss other treatments with your doctor. 

Some interventions don’t involve surgery, for example: 

  • Your doctor can inject synthetic bulking materials into the tissue around the urethra to help keep it closed. This helps reduce urine leakage.
  • You can place a plug, or urethral insert, in the urethra. This will temporarily block the flow of urine. After the activity, remove the plug so you can urinate.
  • Medications may also provide some symptom control. Anticholinergics, which treat overactive bladder, may be an option. 
  • You can try a topical estrogen cream, which can improve the health of the tissues in and around the urethra. 

Talk to your doctor before starting any type of treatment.

ONDRwear: Offering Protection Before and After Bladder Tack Surgery

Stress incontinence, while very common, can lead to embarrassing leaks and social anxiety.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The process involved in treating stress incontinence may take months, but why limit your activities and social outings when you can try ONDRwear instead?

ONDRwear leak-proof underwear was designed by a urologist with you in mind. Throw away those bulky incontinence pads, and get into our comfy, odor-free, leak-proof undies!

ONDRwear are:

  • Absorbent
  • Leak-proof
  • Comfortable; and
  • Easy to manage

They also come in different designs, colors, and sizes, just like regular underwear.

Free yourself of the worries that come with stress incontinence and try our leak-proof underwear today.

 The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.