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The vaginal mesh procedures that have been used for many years in the treatment of urinary incontinence and prolapse in women, have recently been found to have more complications than previously reported.

For some women with vaginal mesh implants, the complications and side effects are significant and a mesh removal procedure may be necessary.

Here at The London Clinic, we offer comprehensive care, led by specialist teams who can support women requiring treatment for the complications of their vaginal mesh implants.

What is a vaginal mesh?

A ‘vaginal mesh implant’ is a specially designed mesh, made of a synthetic material, that can be used as a treatment method for several conditions such as vaginal prolapse (when the womb ‘sags’ down past the neck of the vagina) or urinary incontinence.

A vaginal mesh is surgically implanted to help reinforce the muscles around the bladder and vagina to help relieve symptoms. There are different shapes of mesh implant that can be used depending on each patient’s individual symptoms and the anatomical positioning of the mesh.

What are the complications of vaginal mesh implants?

Complication rates that were previously reported as being 1 - 3% are now believed to be in the region of 10 - 15%. There are a wide range of reported side effects of vaginal mesh implants, and the symptoms vary between women.

Some of these issues can occur due to erosion of the mesh into the vaginal wall, bladder wall or bowel.

The most common problems reported include:

If left untreated, these can lead to chronic pain, kidney damage, sexual dysfunction or permanent problems with bladder or bowel continence.

How are vaginal mesh complications diagnosed?

Early recognition of symptoms is important to prevent long-term complications, so if you have had a surgical mesh implant and are concerned that you may be experiencing symptoms due to it, then a prompt specialist assessment by an expert consultant in women’s health is recommended.

They will be able to take a detailed history from you and perform an appropriate examination as necessary.

Following this, some tests may be performed such as a check of your urine sample or special tests to assess how well the bladder is working. Imaging of the mesh and bladder with ultrasound may also be offered as well as a cystoscopy in some cases (camera test into the bladder).

What can be done about complications of vaginal mesh?

There are many treatment options available for managing mesh-related problems and each woman’s experience is unique, requiring an individualised approach to treatment planning.

Following a detailed history, examination and appropriate tests, your specialist consultant will discuss all of the treatment options available with you to help you decide on the best course of action.

Not everyone needs surgery and medications can be used to treat some of the symptoms of mesh complications:

  • If you are experiencing pain, pain-killers can be used to treat pelvic pain and you may be referred to a special team to help manage your pain most effectively 
  • For women who get recurrent urinary tract infections, a short course of antibiotics or 3-6 month course of low-dose antibiotic can be used
  • Many women experience issues with vaginal pain and dryness, which can lead to pelvic discomfort and problems with sexual intercourse. This can be treated well with oestrogen-containing creams or pessaries.

‘Intermittent self-catheterisation’ is effective for some women in restoring urinary continence and relieving bladder discomfort without the need for complex surgery. This is where you learn how to pass a small plastic tube into the bladder to allow it to pass urine.

This is a fairly simple procedure that can be taught to you by a healthcare professional. It must be done regularly throughout the day under very clean conditions. 

For some women, surgery may be necessary to remove the mesh (either partially or fully) and the risks will vary from person to person depending on the extent of their complications.

It is important to consider the risks and benefits before proceeding with mesh removal surgery and your specialist consultant will be able to explain these to help you decide on the most effective treatment plan for your needs.

What surgical aftercare will be offered?

Our dedicated multidisciplinary team of specialists, nurses and support staff offer comprehensive aftercare for patients following a vaginal mesh removal. You will have follow-up with both our specialist nurses and consultant surgeons who will ensure your optimum comfort and recovery.



The London Clinic is dedicated to providing the best, personalised healthcare with over 600 world-renowned consultants available to offer informed health advice and treatment.

Spanning Harley Street and Devonshire Place, The London Clinic is situated in the heart of London’s internationally-known medical district. This central location, together with state-of-the-art technologies and facilities that are not widely available in other hospitals, makes The London Clinic the hospital of choice for around 120,000 patients every year.

Offering affordable and competitive self-pay packages and expert support from Clinical Nurse Specialists and our specialised multidisciplinary team, 98% of our patients said they would recommend The London Clinic to their friends and families.


Further information and enquiries

For more information on our vaginal mesh implant removal procedures, please contact us via our online enquiry form or by calling +44 (0) 20 3918 9135.

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