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Jaimie Seaton

Jaimie has been a journalist and writer for more than 25 years and has lived and worked all over the world. She began her career in Washington, DC, in the press office of the Clinton/Gore Presidential Transition and then went on to the DC bureau of the Sunday Times of London. From there, Jaimie moved to Johannesburg, where she reported for the Sunday Times of London, Newsweek and Independent News & Media — the largest local newspaper group in the country. She was also the founding editor of Africa Focus, a mining journal covering sub-Saharan Africa.

Jaimie’s work has appeared in a wide variety of publications including The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, Business Insider, New York Magazine, Marie Claire, Glamour and O, The Oprah Magazine.

Jaimie is the mother of two children and lives in New Hampshire. When she's not working, Jaimie enjoys taking long walks with her dog Bailey while listening to books.

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Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Is a Treatment Option for Fibroids

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Is a Treatment Option for Fibroids

Most women with fibroids don’t need treatment. However, for those that do, RFA is an option.

Conditions & Treatments

Medically reviewed by Linda Bradley, M.D.

Infographic Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Is a Treatment Option for Fibroids. Click the image to open the PDF

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are benign growths of the uterus.

Fibroids can be found:

  • Bulging from the inside of the uterus (submucous)
  • In the muscle wall of the uterus (myometrial)
  • Extending outside of the uterus (serous)

About 8 in 10 women will have fibroids at some point in their lives.

Most women with fibroids don’t have symptoms and don’t need treatment. But women who do need treatment have medical and surgical options. One type of surgical treatment is radiofrequency ablation.

What is RFA?

RFA is a surgical procedure done under general anesthesia that uses heat to destroy fibroid tissue.

Laparoscopic RFA is a minimally invasive procedure performed with a laparoscope, a thin tool with a camera on the end. This allows the doctor to see the uterus and find out where the fibroids are.

The doctor makes two small cuts in the belly button and the lower stomach area. Then they insert small tools to make the fibroids smaller using heat and energy (ablation).

Where does RFA take place and who does it?

A gynecologist usually performs the outpatient procedure, and patients generally go home within a couple of hours after surgery.

Who are the best candidates for RFA?

RFA is recommended for people with symptoms who want to keep their uterus.

People with “bulk symptoms,” which make the uterus bigger, are the best candidates.

Bulk symptoms include:

  • Bladder pressure
  • Frequent urination or not being able to urinate
  • Lower back pain
  • Constipation
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding

How can you prepare for RFA?

  • Ask a surgeon how often they do these types of surgeries. Try to find one who performs gynecologic surgery often.
  • Have a biopsy done before RFA.
  • If recommended, have an ultrasound or MRI before RFA.
  • Make sure your Pap and HPV tests are up to date.
  • Make sure you are not pregnant.
  • If you have an IUD (intrauterine device), have it removed before the surgery.

What can you expect during recovery from RFA?

You may feel ready to go back to work and activities within 4 to 7 days.

For the first few days after surgery, you may experience:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Fever
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms
  • Low appetite
  • Low energy
  • Pain

You should not put anything in your vagina for two weeks after surgery.

Many patients feel that RFA is effective in getting rid of their symptoms within 3 to 6 months.

What are the risks of RFA?

All surgical procedures have some risk of complication from anesthesia, as well as risk of infection, blood clots and bleeding.

Laparoscopic RFA is a low-risk procedure. But risks may include:

  • Injury to the bladder, intestines or other organs near the uterus
  • Cramping and vaginal discharge after the surgery
  • New fibroids appearing and needing treatment
  • Possible complications in future pregnancies

This resource was created with support from Hologic.

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