AUSTIN (KXAN) — As humans age, certain body parts continue to grow. For men, that includes the prostate, and it can greatly affect their quality of life. The prostate is a walnut sized gland located beneath the urinary bladder.
When the prostate grows, the channel where urine flows becomes narrow. It causes a frequent need to urinate both day and night, an urgent feeling of needing to urinate and a urinary stream that stops and starts.
“Seventy-five percent of all men will have some sort of urinary symptoms in their lifetime,” said Urologist Dr. Michael Trotter. “It’s a problem. It’s something a lot of people have difficulty talking about.”
Dr. Trotter is with Midtown Urology in Austin. He says while traditional medication usually works, it can have side effects like sexual complications or a drop in blood pressure. He says many patients don’t take the medication as prescribed due to those side effects. Surgery is another option, but any side effects are irreversible.
“There’s always been this gap between medical management and surgical management,” said Dr. Trotter.
A newer procedure is helping to fill that gap, called the UroLift System. Dr. Trotter says they’re able to place tiny implants to hold the prostate lobes apart, allowing urine to flow normally again. It can be done in the physician’s office under local anesthesia, and patients typically go home that day.
“Has zero sexual side effects. Has zero impact on erections and allows you to have the same improvement in your urinary symptoms as you would if you had surgery. And it has a very quick recovery compared to anything else,” said Dr. Trotter.
He says some temporary side effects can include blood in the urine, burning with urination and an urgency to go the bathroom. However, those only last for one to four weeks.
Former Austin broadcaster Neal Spelce has been advocating for the procedure since he had it done.
“That’s one of the problems as you age, you have this frequency of urination, and that gets in your way,” said Spelce.
Now 80 years old, the familiar Austin face is still very active. He’s a communications consultant and publisher of a weekly Austin newsletter. Frequent trips to the restroom were slowing him down, and he didn’t want to be on more medication.
“It’s an irritant as well as a health problem,” said Spelce. “The UroLift, for me, stopped those problems.”
Medicare across all 50 states covers the procedure, and some commercial insurance companies do as well.
Not everyone is a good candidate for UroLift, patients should talk to their doctor about the procedure.