My Journey W/ Fibroids - Part 2: Acessa, Recovery and RESULT!
Ya’ll the sequel is here! And unlike most movies, it's actually way better than the original, which featured hemorrhage bleeding in yoga studios and a premenopausal lupron daze. I wrote that first post in June 2018, when I was just rebounding from some pretty tough months. A lot has happened since then...praise God. I feel like a new human and my fibroids are at least half the size they were last summer. So let's start from early June. Also, this is a super long post again so….buckle up.
Pre - Procedure
My husband and I sat in a dark room waiting for the sonographer to come in and quietly poke around in my uterus. At this point I had done this several times but it was his first time experiencing it with me. Probably not how he envisioned his first ultrasound experience. Instead of excitedly waiting to hear the heartbeat of a tiny little human, we were looking for something not quite as endearing.
Like I wrote in Part 1 of my journey, at this point the fibiords hadn’t budged. They resisted the lifestyle changes, the oils, the massages and finally the lupron treatment. So we moved to our next option: Acessa. Being super committed to minimally invasive procedures, my doctor had mentioned this option to me a couple of months ago. The procedure itself is only a few years old, and many doctors are not yet offering it…. or even talking about it.
What the heck is Acessa?
“The Acessa procedure is a minimally invasive, outpatient treatment for fibroids of all types and sizes and in all locations within the uterine wall. It uses radiofrequency ablation to destroy each fibroid by applying controlled energy through a small needle array. The surrounding normal tissue is not affected. The destroyed tissue may then be completely reabsorbed. The Acessa procedure involves creating just two 1 cm incisions in the abdomen, inserting a needle into the fibroid, and using radiofrequency energy (or heat) to destroy it – while leaving the uterus intact. The fibroid is then reabsorbed into the surrounding tissue.”
The whole idea here is, instead of cutting open my uterus, we just use tiny probes that cause no damage to the uterine wall. This is an alternative to open procedures like an open myomectomy, when they cut directly into your uterus, often causing irrefutable damage to your uterine wall and muscles….which then has the potential of causing real problems when trying to conceive and create more risk for miscarriage. Because Acessa does not require any cutting or damage to the uterine wall it is considered a very minimally invasive procedure that has shown not to interfere with conception and/or carrying a baby to term.
Here is a visual of what happens during the procedure (below). In step 4 you see them pretty much blowing up the fibroid! Okay, that's a little dramatic, but basically they are burning it up...and killing its life source. The hopes it that the heat prematurely damages the living cells within the fibroid so severely that those cells die, which then causes the fibroid to die and then be reabsorbed buy the surrounding tissues in the uterus.
Bee goes Under
My surgery was on June 20, 2018 at about 2pm. It was super standard and very chill. This was my first time being put under general anesthesia that was not performed by my parents lol, but my mom was able to fly in for a few days and made sure the whole hospital knew that her and my father were physicians and that they were watching everyyyyything.
The procedure took about two hours. There were no complications and everything went as expected. It is an outpatient surgery so I was able to leave as soon as I felt comfortable. BUT because my sister had a similar (but slightly more intense) procedure, I knew that when you are being operated on the abdominal area you always want to make sure you urinate before leaving the hospital. Because of the trauma of messing around in that area so close to your bladder, coupled with the general anesthesia, often times women find it difficult to relieve their bladder after abdominal procedures. And that was true for me. It was extremely uncomfortable for about six hours when I knew i needed to pee, had drank a ton of water but nothing would come out. Finally at around 11pm I was finally able to relieve myself (YAY), and off I went. They discharged me and I was out of there and in my bed at home by midnight.
The days following the procedure were pretty uneventful. They say that many women go back to work after two or three days. I took it really easy for two days. Because of the size and location of my fibroids I had four relatively small incisions. So I wanted to make sure not to strain those. But on day three i was getting stir crazy so I convinced my mom to let me get in some physical activity. We walked three miles, and i felt great. I never took the narcotics the doctor prescribed, I was just fine with naproxen, an anti-inflammatory (pretty much a stronger aleve). From that day on, I walked a few miles everyday for moderate physical activity.
By day 10 of post op I was jogging and running outside daily. Not quite back to my workout routine, but definitely getting in some good activity. Oh and they do recommend you refrain from vaginal penetration (sex, tampons, etc.) for at least four weeks after the procedure:/ (I’m honestly not sure if we followed that recommendation, but do as I say, not as I do). After two weeks I felt totally normal, and my doctor instructed me to listen to my body. I ended up having a family emergency back in California 11 days post surgery, and I was able to fly with no issues. Also, I got my period about 2 weeks following the procedure and had no complications with that at all.
Literally, everything from here on out is so boring. Because I became a normal human again. By September my symptoms changed drastically. I give credit to Acessa and also to the fact that the Lupron was finally clearing my system. My periods became predictable and were lasting about six days. My hormones started to balance out, moodswings stopped, bloating (or really uterus swelling) was down, and my energy levels were back to normal. I didn’t need the doctor to tell me that my fibroids had shrunk, my body was telling me. Still my husband wanted real tangible evidence that this Acessa thing worked. So after rescheduling my 3 month evaluation like five times I finally went in for the ultrasound (I was tired of the doctor yall...I just needed some time away lol).
On October 16, 2018, we finally got some good news. My fibroids shrunk by 50%, they were literally half the size three months after Acessa, which made us hopefully they would continue to shrink in size as time progressed. As the cells in the fibroid experience necrosis, the lifeline of the fibroid dies and over time the fibroid (hopefully) dies a slow death (sometimes over several months) and the tissue that is left is absorbed back into the uterus ( we went over this already, but just to drive in the point).
It's now February, and I only feel better than I did in October. I’m pretty much asymptomatic at this point. I still have fairly heavy periods but they only last six days, no in between spotting/bleeding and they are incredibly predictable with my cycle calendar (like down to the exact day, which I have literally never experienced in my whole 18 years of mensuration.) I experience manageable cramping, bloating and the normal PMS, but nothing abnormal.
I’ve also started taking supplements and made some lifestyle changes that assist with hormonal balance and overall wellness. In addition to a daily probiotic, digestive enzymes, iron, and vitamin D, I’ve added the below list to my routine. It is believed that fibroids feed on estrogen, so when your hormones are out of whack it creates a much more welcoming environment for this little masses, and we don’t want that. I also want to stress, I believe in wholistic wellness, in understanding my body as a whole. So please don’t just add these things because I did. Talk to a nutritionist or an herbalist, and start the journey to understanding what your body needs. This is just what has been working for me:):
Limit caffeine intake, specifically coffee
I have cut out coffee before, but following my surgery, I started back...pretty aggressively. I now do one oak milk or almond milk latte a week. I do still drink a healthy amount of Matcha, but that has been approved by my herbalist.
Practice Zen/Soft Yoga, Meditation
Anyone who really knows me knows I like high intensity workouts, so when I do yoga it usually Yoga Sculpt….which is not Yoga lol. So I’ve made a conscious effort to practice more soft flowing, mindful yoga and meditation to help lower my cortisol
In September, I started doing abdominal massages nightly. I’m not sure it does anything to shrink fibroids but my body likes it. I use the same oils that are recommended for fibroid treatment, frankincense, geranium and thyme. I mix a few drops in the a small spray bottle and massage my abdomen in circular motion for five to seven minutes before I wind down for bed.
This has a lot of benefits, but what stands out to me is the lymphatic drainage benefits. Skin brushing helps activate this drainage, that helps clear the body of toxins, increases your immune system and improves digestion. It also apparently helps with cellulite, so it's a win win.
Yes, it is exactly what you read. Little ants ground up with goji berries, can be found here. Essentially this tonic of Mountain Ants, has the highest zinc content among any living thing and is very useful in supporting balance and delivery of hormones throughout our body. Read more about it here.
So that’s all I have! I have to thank God that this is a praise report and I apologize for taking so long to update. I remember before I went through with Acessa I searched for weeks online for personal experiences and results. I was so sad with the lack of information on experience with recovery and results. I’m praying that someone considering the procedure or just looking for treatment options comes across that. And if you by any chance have had Acessa please leave your thoughts, experiences and remarks below. We are a community here!
I hope this was helpful for someone! And I look forward to more praise reports as I continue this journey.