Greenlight Laser is an option for treating BPH
Catching BPH early, before it wreaks havoc on other organs, is one of the reasons men are encouraged to see a doctor for annual rectal exams and any associated prostate blood tests. When an enlarged prostate has become an issue requiring treatment, there are a couple of options. One treatment is GreenLight Laser Therapy, which has treated over 1 million men globally to date.
What Is GreenLight Laser Therapy?
GreenLight Laser Therapy involves the removal of affected tissue from the enlarged prostate gland. This treatment method, which is also sometimes referred to as Photoselective Vaporization of the Prostate, uses a laser, or focused beam of light, to cut away problematic tissue surrounding the urethra.
The GreenLight procedure is an outpatient therapy conducted in our office. It takes about an hour. It is ideal for patients who are unable to stop taking certain medications, usually blood thinners or anticoagulants, whereas other procedures may require patients to stop these prescriptions for several days or weeks.
GreenLight Laser Therapy is an alternative to traditional prostate surgery, which can have a variety of risks and may require hospitalization. This procedure has been shown to have fewer complications than other types of prostate surgeries.
What Should I Expect During the GreenLight Procedure?
GreenLight Laser Therapy requires anesthesia but depending on whether the doctor uses spinal or general anesthesia, you may be required to fast prior to your appointment. The doctor will also let you know what medications to stop taking, if applicable, though anticoagulants and blood thinners do not interfere with GreenLight as they do with other procedures.
Also depending on the type of anesthesia used, you may or may not be conscious during the procedure. The doctor will insert a fiber-optic cystoscope into the tip of the penis and feed it through the urethra to the place of the affected prostate tissue. The laser will then destroy this prostate tissue by means of removal or vaporization, effectively destroying the blockage.
If you are receiving GreenLight Laser Therapy, we do require that someone accompany you to the appointment in order to drive you home afterward, as you will have a catheter inserted after the procedure. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection, if applicable.
GreenLight is often covered by insurance and/or Medicare. We can verify your coverage options prior to the procedure.
What Is the Recovery Time?
After the GreenLight procedure, you will want to take it easy for the rest of the day. Some mild side effects can include nausea or constipation, so patients are advised to drink plenty of fluids and try to stick to soups and liquid meals for a day or two if either of these issues is present.
You will have a catheter in for several days, which will require some care. Additional common side effects include some light blood in the urine — or pink-tinged urine — as well as frequent urination and a burning sensation during urination. These issues should resolve themselves within a few days to weeks.
We recommend that patients wait to resume normal physical activity for 1 week after GreenLight Laser Therapy, and then to start slowly, with walks instead of runs, for instance. We do not recommend any heavy lifting for at least 2 weeks after the procedure. We also strongly recommend patients do not have sexual intercourse for at least 1 to 2 weeks post-procedure.
Within 4 to 6 weeks, the inflammation from the prostate’s healing process should subside and side effects should be gone.
How Successful is GreenLight and What Are the Risks?
The majority of patients who receive GreenLight Laser Therapy notice relief from BPH symptoms within 24 hours. This is typically reported as an almost immediate return to normal urine flow. GreenLight has been shown to last for up to 5 years post-procedure. 86% of patients reported either an improvement in sexual satisfaction or no change following the GreenLight therapy.
Since GreenLight is a surgical procedure, there are some risks associated with it. Some men experience heavier bleeding or a urinary tract infection. If blood in the urine is thick or lasts longer than a week, contact your doctor immediately.
Occasionally, men may experience “retrograde ejaculation,” when semen is emitted into the bladder instead of through the urethra and out of the penis during orgasm. This is a rare side effect, but if you do experience this, talk to your doctor about your options.
GreenLight has been shown to be an extremely effective alternative to traditional prostate surgeries and offers a safe option for those on certain medications. There are fewer risks and no hospitalizations required with the GreenLight procedure, making it a popular option among men with BPH. If you are suffering from uncomfortable symptoms related to an enlarged prostate, give us a call to book an appointment. We will talk through the pros and cons of all of your options, including GreenLight Laser Therapy.