For those suffering from surgical mesh complications and in need of mesh removal surgery – finding (and getting to) the right doctor is quite possibly as difficult as it is for the surgeons to actually remove the mesh.
Here are some basic questions to ask any doctor that you may be considering using for mesh complications/mesh removal:
- Do they recommend, and can they do, FULL mesh Removals? (vs partial removals?)
- Are they able to do “Non-Mesh” repairs?
- What diagnostic equipment do they use to “see” mesh before removal surgery (if any)?
- Do they still implant mesh?
- Are there positive references from others who already used them for mesh removal?
- Are they affiliated with, or working for, any of the mesh manufacturers, etc.?
It’s important when looking for a doctor to not only ask questions – but, to really see if their answers check out.
Unfortunately, I’ve heard of too many doctors who claim they will remove “all the mesh”, but then they do not/can not. Experience and positive references are KEY. Mesh removal is NOT easy. If a doctor does not recommend FULL mesh removal to you – there’s a good chance they are not going to do, can not possibly do, and/or WILL NOT do a full mesh removal. Now, if I went to one of the few doctors that actually does full mesh removals regularly for people with mesh complications – and THEY told me that the mesh could not be removed – well, then that is different. But, if a doctor NEVER recommends full mesh removal? That’s a problem in my book. Even if they SAY they can/will do a full removal – how many removal surgeries have they actually done? How many of those surgeries were successful? Do they even consider the “anchors” or “arms” as part of a “full removal”? What are the odds that you will have any permanent damage or re-occurring issues? If they still implant mesh, how often do they still use it? Why? Does this matter to you? Are they confidant they can help you with any further repairs necessary without implanting more mesh (assuming you do NOT want more mesh put in)?
When taking other people’s recommendations, take everything into consideration. Consider the source(s). Is this an advertisement coming directly from a lawyer or doctor? Can you find others (in the support groups or forums) that are giving them positive feedback? Are there comments regarding long-term results vs. short term? Did they even actually have mesh removed? When asking questions in any of the support groups, also know that there is a search tool at the top right of any group. You can use that tool to search for a doctor’s name, or a specific word, and it will pull up any past conversations in that group that mentioned whatever you search for. This can also be a great way to get information. How about the doctor’s patient satisfaction reviews on “Vitals” (http://www.vitals.com) and on “Healthgrades” (http://www.healthgrades.com)? Do those reviews mention anything remotely like what YOU need done? When you do see comments from others, are those people doing better? Same goes when hearing negative feedback. Try to get all the facts. Is there more positive than negative feedback? or vice versa?
Too often, a woman goes to to a doctor, and thinks they have found a great doctor. Especially if they have already gone to a few doctors that would not even mention the “M” word. But, then they have surgery and the doc they thought was so great, winds up not being able to actually remove all their mesh. Sometimes, they don’t even try to remove it all, and maybe never even intended to. Worse, some women report that they later discovered their doctor had flat out lied – by telling them that they did remove it all, only to discover later (usually when problems continue to worsen) that the doctor only removed a small portion. It’s almost as if they believe it’s all in our head, and so if they tell us it is all out, we will miraculously get better. Sorry docs. Mesh doesn’t work like that! Perhaps the worst is when I hear reports from women who said their doctor removed some eroded mesh, and replaced it with MORE mesh unbeknownst to them. Many of these women who thought they were being helped, wind up having far worse problems, more surgeries, and subsequently may change their mind down the road about the doctor that they originally were signing praises about.
I’m not trying to scare people… but, unfortunately, I’ve seen this too many times and so people should know it happens and that even if others ARE recommending a certain doctor, you still need to do your own homework. Personally, there are very few doctors that I feel comfortable recommending to women with mesh complications other than Dr. Raz (who I went to). This is because Dr. Raz was my personal experience, and I not only feel like he saved my life, but have heard positive feedback on him from others as well, repeatedly, for years. Another doctor that has been getting more and more positive feedback is Dr. Veronikis. I’m not saying there are not any other good docs out there, or that it’s not worth trying to find them. We definitely need to … and I’m trying to too… I just haven’t found too many yet, that I’m personally comfortable backing up. But, that doesn’t mean YOU can’t. If you went to a doc, and they helped you – then, I hope you will share. We need more people to share their own experiences – good and bad… and their own recommendations.
Matter of fact, PLEASE check the reviews for any docs you are considering going to, AND also leave reviews on ANY of the doctors you have seen on at least these “Vitals” (http://www.vitals.com) and on “Healthgrades” (http://www.healthgrades.com). Please share your good and bad experiences. More and more people are using these tools when searching for a doctor, and they also feed into other review sites. The “Vitals” one is especially nice, because it allows you to leave actual comments. This sites feed into other doctor “rating” sites… along with healthgrades – but healthgrades doesn’t allow comments. So, try to use VITALS, and mention “mesh” in your comment. You do NOT have to give details, or your real name, if you don’t want to. Do not be defamatory… just state facts… and would you reccomend or no? I think this website could be a great tool, for all those seeking desperately for doctors to help with mesh complications. Plus, if we all made comments, it not only could warn people of doctors that didn’t help, recommend doctors that DID help, but it could ALSO raise awareness to just how many of us are out there with mesh complications.
But, back to choosing your doctor – Of course, it’s always an individual choice, and people need to do their own homework as best they can (I know “they” don’t make it easy”), and go with their own best personal options. Every person’s complications and issues are unique – and so YOU need to choose the best doctor for YOU. Often, you may need to go to a few doctors before finding the right one. Frustrating, I know, but better than settling.
Sometimes, the best doctor, is not the most convenient option. Not everyone can travel for surgery, but before you automatically rule that out – you should look into all options and think of the big picture. This also goes for local Primary care docs, etc. The best doctor is one that will listen to you and take your side… not necessarily the one closest to your home, or that never makes you wait longer than a few minutes to be seen. I love my PCP because he does actually listen and takes his time with me, but this also means when I go to him, I usually have to wait well past my appointment time. Sometimes, hours. But, I decided he is worth the wait, because when it is “my turn”, I know he will give me the time and attention I need as well.
Also – it is helpful to know if the doctor you are going to is working for, or is affiliated with any other companies. Many are paid consultants, speakers, and trainers for mesh manufacturers, or other medical companies. If they are helping to sell/market something, most likely, they are going to be supportive of it. It could also mean that they are an “expert” in something, and not necessarily be a negative thing – but, it is good to know either way. Check their faculty pages at whatever hospital they work at. Often, other affiliations are listed there. If you look at articles they may have published recently, they can also be very informative to see what kinds of research they are doing, and what they believe. Also, usually a published article will state if there’s any conflicts of interests right on it.
It is sad that we have to be so careful – but, I know too many who have found out the hard way that you have to be very very careful who you trust. Besides, a good doctor will have nothing to hide.
==============Related Mesh Me Not Blog Posts================
- Why I Went All the Way to UCLA for Mesh Removal Surgery
- Searching for Docs Experienced with FULL Mesh Removal, and/or NON-Mesh Repairs
- Dr. Raz
- Partial vs. Full Mesh Removal Surgery
- Upstate NY Support for Mesh Complications
- Mesh-Injured People: NOT rare. NOT going away. NOT getting SUPPORT!
- It’s NOT enough. We need help!
- Were you told that you were the “only one”?
- Are you a GOOD mesh? Or a BAD mesh?
- FDA warns there is NO evidence that mesh provided any greater clinical benefit than non-mesh surgeries
- Top 10 Things to Know About Mesh BEFORE Having Surgery for POP or SUI
- Links to many other articles, blogs, support groups, and resources on the bottom of this blog
==============Related OTHER articles/Posts================
- Questions to Ask Before Mesh Removal
- Vitals (http://www.vitals.com) – to check, and leave reviews on doctors
- List of doctors who remove TRANSVAGINAL mesh (USA) by Mesh Problems Group:
- List of doctors who remove HERNIA mesh by Mesh Problems Group:
- List of doctors in UK recommended by Mesh Problems Group:
Perhaps even more helpful than articles, is talking to a variety of others who are suffering from mesh complications, and are in various stages of treatment. Three of the larger support groups I found helpful are:
- Women’s POP/SUI TVMesh Complications Support (Closed Group)
- Fighters And Survivors of All Transvaginal Mesh And Hernia Mesh/Plugs (Closed Group)
- Mesh Problems (PUBLIC/OPEN TO ALL, including doctors, etc)
- More resources listed on the footer/main page of this blog!