For men, more frequent trips to the bathroom may be a part of aging but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It is common for the prostate to continue to grow throughout a man’s life, but as the prostate enlarges it can cause urinary problems and a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
The prostate gland surrounds the urethra, where urine moves from the bladder out of the body. Enlarged prostate, or BPH, can cause the need to urinate more often or difficulty emptying the bladder which can be bothersome, especially at night.
“We typically begin to see problems with enlarged prostate around the age of 50, and then it becomes more likely as you age,” said Robert Laciak, MD, of Samaritan Urology – Corvallis.
Treating enlarged prostate can be as simple as taking a daily pill. For more moderate to severe cases, surgery is usually the next step. Laser vaporization is a surgical technique that uses a laser to remove excess tissue that is blocking the urethra. Another surgical option is transurethral resection (TURP), where the doctor uses instruments to trim the excess prostate tissue. Both of these procedures are performed under general anesthesia. Patients are often able to go home the same day after laser vaporization but TURP usually requires an overnight stay in the hospital.
“Medication typically has good results for mild cases of enlarged prostate,” said Laciak. “But some men don’t want to be on a pill every day for the rest of their life or are worried about the side effects of medications and traditional surgery, especially sexual side effects.”
A newer surgical option is a prostate lift called UroLift, which uses tiny implants to physically hold the prostate away from the urethra. This is a mechanical opening of the area as opposed to a traditional cutting of excess tissue, which helps to minimize side effects. The procedure is performed with IV sedation and patients are able to go home the same day. There is usually no need for a catheter.
“Laser vaporization and transurethral resection are still very common and appropriate in many cases, but for people who fit the criteria for UroLift it’s a minimally invasive, long term solution to enlarged prostate,” said Laciak, who specializes in the procedure. “It’s a nice in-between for the person who doesn’t want to take a pill and doesn’t want a more invasive procedure.”