Lindsay (33) from Dallas, TX first found out she had fibroids at her annual well woman visit about a year and a half ago. At the time, she wasn’t struggling with any other symptoms but heavy bleeding with her menstrual cycle, which she thought was normal. Her doctor felt her uterus was swollen and recommended an ultrasound. The fibroids were already large enough that it most likely took several years for them to grow. Lindsay’s doctor did not recommend treatment at that time.
“My doctor told me ‘I’ve really used the “watch and wait” approach, we’re going to have you come back in 6 months.’ I really didn’t think anything of it.” said Lindsay.
Fibroid patients are often advised to “watch and wait”. This is an outdated approach. Small fibroids can grow very large, very fast, and can cause extensive damage. Large fibroids can lead to uterine distortion and infertility. Once that occurs, it becomes much harder to preserve the uterus, and they need to undergo a hysterectomy, which could have been avoided.
LINDSAY BEGINS HER SEARCH FOR THE BEST FIBROID REMOVAL SURGERY
Six months after her fibroids diagnosis, Lindsay went on a very strict vegan diet in an attempt to shrink them. Since they were already quite large, she had to look into surgical treatment. When she came back to see her doctor in 6 months, she recommended an open myomectomy.
“At the time, when my doctor did mention surgery, she told me that it was the standard old school procedure, an open myomectomy. I would be in the hospital for 3 days and out of work for 6-8 weeks. I thought: I don’t want that option! I work for myself, I don’t have paid vacation. I’m a make-up artist and wardrobe stylist. With my business, I have to physically be there, in front of my clients. Laying in bed for 6-8 weeks is not an option.”
Lindsay knew she had to take charge of her GYN health. That’s when she discovered Dr. Paul MacKoul, MD.
“I love my OBGYN, I’ve gone to her for years, but she is not a surgeon. I started researching, I’m a big researcher. I Google everything! That’s how I found Dr. MacKoul. I went on the website, I watched all the videos, I also went to the Facebook page. I was able to see patients comment and their reviews and I saw these are real people. I had my phone consultation with Dr. MacKoul and I felt like all the research I did showed this is the right fit for me. I was in the position where I was able to travel, and my family was very supportive. I felt like that was the right decision.”
The only other options Lindsay had at home were open myomectomy or robotic surgery. One of her friends recommended she see a different doctor and undergo robotic surgery like she did. After comparing the two and learning how innovative the LAAM technique is, Lindsay was certain it was the right surgery for her.
“This was my first time to go “under the knife” so a procedure with the least amount of incisions and the least amount of downtime was very important to me. In comparison to all other options available I found that LAAM was exactly what I was looking for. So I was willing to travel to get the best surgery possible for my health.”
TRAVELING FOR MINIMALLY INVASIVE LAAM MYOMECTOMY AT CIGC
The LAAM technique was developed by CIGC surgeons Paul MacKoul MD and Natalya Danilyants MD to achieve superior surgical outcomes. Only two small incisions are used to remove fibroids of any size or number, even fibroids deep in the muscle and in the cavity of the uterus. Due to the advanced surgical approach, women recover faster, with less complications and pain.
“With Dr. MacKoul, it was easy because I had already done so much research, I knew what was coming. He was very straightforward, which I liked. He was upfront and honest. He said to me: ‘your doctor shouldn’t have left them in this long, they could have really damaged your uterus by waiting so long.’ He seemed very real and personable, very sincere. My mom and stepdad were with me, and they were impressed.”
“My surgery was on a Thursday and I just flew in the day before. I was nervous as this was my first surgery. I didn’t know what to expect, I thought I was going to be in crazy pain at least for the weekend. But the next day, I woke up, and I felt great. We actually went site-seeing. That was amazing, the day after surgery I was up and moving. I used pain killers for about 3 nights. By the day I got back to Dallas, I was off painkillers. There wasn’t really pain, I just felt sore. It was completely different than I expected.”
RECOVERING IN LESS THAN 2 WEEKS AFTER LAAM MYOMECTOMY
“I had a vacation planned to Mexico. When I met with Dr. MacKoul, I was about a month out. This was important to me as this was a trip I had earned through my company, so I had it planned months prior. Dr. MacKoul said as long as I do this 2 weeks before, I should be good, which I thought was crazy! I went to my OBGYN last week, I think she was shocked to see my quick recovery. I said ‘my surgery was 5 weeks ago and I’ve been working for weeks and I just got back from a vacation in Mexico.’ ”
“Two of my fibroids were the size of grapefruits and they were so big that it got to the point where I was really uncomfortable. I remember waking up after surgery and my stomach felt empty, like something had been freed up and that was amazing. I gave myself 2 weeks until I started going out on appointments, but to be honest I could have gotten back in 1 week.”
I’m a big advocate now and hope my story helps others. I’ve shared my experience and have since had friends come to me with similar issues. Many also doing the “wait & watch” approach or the standard surgery option with the whole 6-8 week recovery time and larger incisions. When I recommend Dr. MacKoul, the first response I hear is “I can’t travel like you did.” But here is how I look at it: You can travel and be gone for 3 days and be back to yourself working within a week, or go to your local doctor where you may be in the hospital up to 3 days and in bed 6-8 weeks, with a caregiver. The choice was clear to me. To be able to get back to work almost a month sooner and be self-sufficient within a week made all the difference, and was more than worth it.”
BOOK A CONSULTATION
The CIGC state-of-the-art specialists are available at three locations in the DC metro area. Virginia patients can visit the Reston location, and Saturday appointments are available. Maryland offices are located in Rockville and Annapolis.
GYN surgical specialists can often see women sooner because they are focused entirely on surgery. Each patient gets detailed, in depth attention from Dr. Natalya Danilyants and Dr. Paul MacKoul. This personalized care helps patients understand their condition and the recommended treatment so that they can have confidence from the very start. Our surgeons have performed over 20,000 GYN procedures and are constantly finding better ways to improve outcomes for patients.
CIGC TRAVEL PROGRAM
Even if you are not from the DC area, many patients travel to The Center for Innovative GYN Care for our groundbreaking procedures. We treat women from around the world who suffer from complex GYN conditions.
Learn more in our travel program.