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Vaginal and Uterine Prolapse

Surgery for vaginal or uterine prolapse
Vaginal prolapse occurs when the network of muscles, ligaments and skin
that holds the vagina in its correct anatomical position weakens. This causes
the vagina to prolapse—slip or fall—from its normal position.

Uterine prolapse occurs when pelvic floor muscles and ligaments stretch
and weaken, reducing support for the uterus. The uterus then slips or falls
into the vaginal canal.

Prolapse can cause the following symptoms:

  • A feeling of heaviness or pulling in your pelvis
  • Tissue protruding from your vagina
  • Painful intercourse
  • Pelvic pain and difficulties with urination and bowel movements

Diagrams of uterine and vaginal prolapses

About 200,000 women have prolapse surgery each year in the United States.1 Risk factors for prolapse include:

  • Multiple vaginal deliveries
  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Hysterectomy
  • Collagen quality
  • Smoking

One in nine women who undergo a hysterectomy will experience vaginal prolapse and 10% of these women may need surgical repair of a major vaginal prolapse2.

Download a FREE brochure to learn about robotic procedures offered at Gwinnett Medical Center. 

Prolapse treatment—sacrocolpopexy
Typically, prolapse of the vagina and uterus gradually worsens over time and can only be fully corrected with surgery. The most effective way to correct vaginal prolapse and resolve symptoms is called sacrocolpopexy.

In this procedure, surgical mesh is used to hold the vagina in its correct anatomical position. The mesh remains in place permanently. Sacrocolpopexy can also be performed following a hysterectomy to treat uterine prolapse and provide long-term support of the vagina.

Three approaches to sacrocolpopexy

  • Open surgery—A 6- to 12-inch horizontal incision is made in the lower abdomen in order to manually access the pelvic organs, including the uterus. While the success rate of open abdominal sacrocolpopexy is high, recovery time can be long, including a five- to six-day hospital stay.
  • Laparoscopic sacrocolpopexy—A minimally invasive alternative, this approach is generally considered to be technically challenging due to the extensive suturing and dissection required coupled with the limitations of traditional laparoscopic technology.
  • Robotic sacrocolpopexy—A less invasive surgical procedure that uses the da Vinci® robot, this delicate operation delivers unmatched precision and is performed through a few tiny incisions.

For most women, robotic surgery offers numerous potential benefits over a traditional open approach to sacrocolpopexy, including:

  • Significantly less pain3
  • Less blood loss and fewer blood transfusions4
  • Minimally invasive surgical option for women with large, numerous or difficult to access fibroids5
  • Fewer complications and a lower risk of infection3
  • Shorter hospital stay3
  • Faster recovery and return to normal activities3
  • Small, dime-sized incisions for minimal scarring6

Watch the da Vinci system demonstrate its precision by folding origami. As with any surgical procedure, these benefits cannot be guaranteed as surgery is both patient- and procedure- specific.

For a physician referral, call 678-312-5000 or click here to find a doctor and search “robotic surgery.” Request a free testimonial and education DVD about robotic hysterectomies.


1Boyles SH, Weber AM, Meyn L. Procedures for pelvic organ prolapse in the United States, 1979-1997. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2003 Jan;188(1):108-15. Abstract.
2Marchionni M, Bracco GL, Checcucci V, Carabaneanu A, Coccia EM, Mecacci F, Scarselli G. True incidence of vaginal vault prolapse. Thirteen years of experience. Journal of Reproductive Medicine 1999 Aug;44(8):679-84. Abstract.
3Piquion-Joseph JM, Navar A, Ghazaryan A, Papanna R, Klimek W, Laroia R, Robot-assisted gynecological surgery in a community setting; Journal of Robotic Surgery (2009) pp. 1-4
4Visco AG, Advincula AP, Robotic Gynecologic Surgery; Obstetrics and gynecology (2008) 112 (6), pp. 1369-1384
5Advincula AP, Song A, Burke W, Reynolds RK; Preliminary Experience with Robot-Assisted Laparoscopic Myomectomy; Journal of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (2004)11(4):511–518