written by: Victoria Trix
• edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski
• updated: 12/28/2009
The recovery time for rectocele surgery depends on a person's pain threshold and other individual factors. Learn about rectocele surgery and the recovery period for this treatment in this guide.
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What is Rectocele?
Rectocele is a protrusion that occurs when the rectum begins to fall and pushes against or into the vaginal wall. Doctors often recommend rectocele repair, as this falling of the rectum can cause incontinence and mild or severe pain. Rectoceles happen when the muscles of the rectum and vagina weaken and prolapse, allowing one or the other to fall. Rectoceles are caused by muscle strain association with childbirth and hemorrhoids. Heavy lifting and repeated bowel straining are also known causes.
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Grades of Rectocele
There are three grades of rectocele, which are assigned based on how far the rectum protrudes into the vagina. Grade one is assigned to small bulges, while grades two and three are assigned to medium and large bulges. Many advanced grade three rectoceles are seen bulging out of the vaginal opening, and cause pain during sexual intercourse. If the rectocele is very advanced, intercourse may be impossible.
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Average Recovery Time for Rectocele Surgery
Since large rectoceles require surgery to move the rectum away from the vagina, the surgery requires that mesh or stitches are used to help support the area. When the mesh or stitches are applied, the tissues and muscles are strengthened and no longer allow the rectoceles to exist. All rectocele surgeries are done on an inpatient basis, and a hospital stay of up to six days is usually required. After surgery, the patient is observed in the recovery room for approximately two hours. A catheter is left in place to drain urine from the body while the patient recovers. This catheter may be left in place for up to two weeks. Recovery time for rectocele surgery is based on the complications that arise during the surgery or accompanying hospital stay.
Recovery time for rectocele surgery can be as little as two weeks and as long as six weeks. The surgery is done with regional anesthesia, where the pelvic area is numb, or general anesthesia, where a person is asleep. The operation is done through small incisions in the vaginal wall and the abdominal wall so that the rear wall of the vagina is accessible. The tissues between the rectum and vagina are reinforced with either mesh stitched to the area, or stitches applied to the area after the muscles and tissues are cut and replaced. If too much stretching has taken place, the excess tissues are removed. Sutures are absorbed by the body after a few weeks.
Exercise is restricted for one month after this procedure, while bending and lifting are restricted for two weeks after surgery. Bloody discharge is expected in the weeks following the rectocele repair procedure.