About a month ago, reality star Bethenny Frankel revealed that she underwent surgery, but not the kind you’d expect. Frankel had a fibroid that caused her to lose 10 percent of her blood and required an immediate myomectomy, she told People Magazine in an interview. She was feeling depleted, exhausted and zoned out when filming The Real Housewives of New York City one day. She knew something had to be wrong when her bleeding was so excessive.
A fibroid (also known as a leiomyoma) is a noncancerous growth found on the uterus. It’s common for women to develop one or multiple fibroids, especially during their childbearing years. “Between 30-50 percent of women by the age of 30 will develop uterine fibroids,” says Dr. Kirsten Sasaki, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “Fibroids are the most common cause of a hysterectomy in the United States, with 40 percent of all hysterectomies due to fibroids. As Bethenny Frankel experienced, fibroids most commonly cause heavy bleeding and in some cases are so severe that they require a blood transfusion. Fertility may be negatively impacted by fibroids, including failure to achieve pregnancy as well as potentially, in Ms. Frankel’s case, contributing to miscarriage.”
The typical treatment for fibroids is having a myomectomy, a procedure that removes the fibroids and reconstructs the uterus, as opposed to a hysterectomy, which removes the uterus all together. Doctors suggest choosing a myomectomy if you plan on becoming pregnant. “Bethenny underwent an open myomectomy, in which her doctor made an incision similar to a C-section, and removed her fibroids,” says Dr. Sasaki. “Generally, patients stay in the hospital for several days, and it may take six weeks to recover.”
People Magazine reported Frankel spent three days in the hospital, and doctors told her it would take her six weeks to recover. But she says her recovery has been much quicker after taking better care of herself.
“There are multiple treatment options including hormonal-based medications, radiologic procedures and surgery. If fibroids go untreated, they may grow and symptoms may worsen,” says Dr. Sasaki. “Another option, routinely performed at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, is a minimally invasive laparoscopic or robotic-assisted myomectomy, in which three small incisions, each measuring less than one quarter of an inch are made in the abdomen, and the fibroids are removed. This procedure often enables the patient to return home the same day of surgery and resume their normal life in one to two weeks.” As a minimally invasive OB/GYN, very few of Dr. Sasaki’s patients require open surgery.