It can happen at any time – a simple cough, laugh or even bending down can result in urine leakage, aka stress incontinence. But a new treatment is showing promising results and changing the lives of sufferers for the better. Dr. Samuel Seit and Dr. Sue Feng, from the Skin Cancer & Cosmetic Clinic in Neutral Bay, are passionate in the field of skin cancer and cosmetic surgery, and are leading the charge in stress incontinence procedures they perform on patients to ensure the best possible results by using the least invasive techniques. Here’s everything you need to know about stress incontinence, including a new breakthrough treatment…
Q. What is stress incontinence?
“Stress incontinence is the leaking of small amounts of urine during activities that increase pressure inside the abdomen and push down on the bladder,” explains Dr. Seit. “This occurs mainly in women and sometimes in men (most often as a result of prostate surgery).”
Q. When is stress incontinence most likely to strike?
Dr. Sue Feng, who performs much of the gynae lasering, says stress incontinence is most common with activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking, lifting, or playing sport. “Other factors contributing to stress incontinence include diabetes, chronic cough (linked with asthma, smoking or bronchitis), constipation and obesity.”
Q. How common is stress incontinence?
“Urinary incontinence affects up to 13% of Australian men and up to 37% of Australian women,” explains Dr. Seit. “And 65% of women and 30% of men sitting in a GP waiting room report some type of urinary incontinence, yet only 31% of these people report having sought help from a health professional. Of concern is that 70% of people with urinary leakage do not seek advice and treatment for their problem**.
“An Australian study found that over a three month period, 50% of women aged 45-59 years of age experienced some degree of mild, moderate or severe urinary incontinence.
“The prevalence of urge incontinence, which is strongly associated with prostate disease, is fairly low in younger males and increases to 30% for those aged 70-84 and 50% for those 85 years and over***.”
Q. We know childbirth is a major cause but what other causes are there?
“Yes, one of the main reasons for weak pelvic floor muscles in women is pregnancy and giving birth, which tend to put a lot of extra pressure on the pelvic floor muscles,” explains Dr. Feng. “Often these muscles take time to recover. Menopause and ageing can also cause these muscles to lose their elasticity and therefore their effectiveness. Also, certain uterine muscles support the bladder and urethra so a hysterectomy can also cause stress incontinence.
“Urinary tract infections can also cause stress incontinence,” she adds. “Obesity can also put extra pressure on the bladder and urethra and might cause stress incontinence to occur, and smoking can cause chronic coughing, and coughing contributes greatly to the advent of stress incontinence. Therefore, smoking can indirectly cause the affliction.”
Q. What new, non-invasive treatments are available?
“Besides behavioural changes, changes to dieting, pelvic floor exercise/Kegel exercises, a new IncontiLase laser treatment is revolutionary treatment for stress incontinence,” explains Dr. Seit. “There is no surgery, no pain, no down time, and it’s a walk-in walk-out treatment that will improve your symptoms even after your first treatment.”
Q. How does it work?
“IncontiLase is a innovative and unique non-invasive Er:YAG laser therapy for incontinence,” explains Dr. Feng. “It is based on non-ablative photothermal tension and shrinkage of the urethral and anterior bladder wall region.”
Dr. Seit adds; “The final result of collagen neogenesis is the shrinking and tightening of vaginal mucosa tissue and collagen-rich endopelvic fascia, and subsequently, greater support to the bladder and the return of normal continence function.”
Q. Can laser affect the patient’s sex life?
“Everyone having IncontiLase laser also gets IntimaLase done, but not vice versa,” explains Dr. Sue Feng. “IntimaLase treats vaginal tightening, whereby the whole vaginal canal tightens and the lining is rejuvenated making it wetter and tighter, giving both partners a more satisfying sexual relationship.”
Q. Are there any additional benefits laser can perform?
“The Fotona Er:YAG laser, with a super long pulse, is able to tighten tissue with a wet surface such as the vaginal canal,” says Dr. Seit. “Another new indication is that it can treat the soft palate intra-orally, for example the mouth, to improve symptoms of snoring and people with sleep apnoea. The treatment is quick, has little discomfort, and is a walk-in walk-out procedure. Normally we do three treatments: the initial treatment, then at two weeks and six weeks later.
“The Fotona laser is also used for the new 4D facial rejuvenation where both inside and outside your mouth is treated to tighten loose tissue, followed by global collagen regeneration laser treatment and a light ablative laser peel. There is minimal downtime in the treatment and you are able to return to work immediately.”
Q. What’s involved in the procedure?
“Gynaecological laser treatments are performed by our laser trained doctors. Some of the facial or skin lasering may be performed by our laser certified therapist.”
Q. Where can the procedure be done?
“The procedures are performed at the Skin Cancer and Cosmetic Clinic in Neutral Bay as an outpatient.”
Q. How long do the results last?
“The results are long lasting but we suggest a touch-up treatment in 6-12 months if required.”
Cost: Around $1350 to $1800 per treatment.
Visit the Skin Cancer and Cosmetic Clinic in Neutral Bay website for more information.
^Continence Foundation Australia
*Byles & Chiarelli, 2003
***Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2006
This post is sponsored by the Skin Cancer and Cosmetic Clinic. All opinions expressed by the authors are authentic and written in their own words.