What to Expect After Prostate Removal

September 21, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Mina Fam, M.D.

Prostate removal is an effective treatment option for prostate cancer. A radical prostatectomy, which removes the entire prostate gland as well as some surrounding tissue, takes a few hours to complete.

Here are three things you can expect after your prostate is removed.

Gradual Recovery

Prostate removal is major surgery, so expect some soreness and pain. You’ll receive IV pain medications at first, and your doctor may prescribe you pain medication to use at home. You will also have a urinary catheter in place for about the first week, which you might find uncomfortable.

Most patients are up and moving the day of surgery and go home the following day. Although you will need to rest and gradually resume physical activity, urologist Mina Fam, M.D., emphasizes the importance of movement. “I want patients up and walking the same day of surgery because any kind of cancer surgery has a risk for blood clotting,” Dr. Fam says. “I encourage patients to keep walking during their recovery.”

Expect it to take about four weeks to start feeling back to your “normal” self if your surgery was done robotically and up to six weeks with a traditional open approach.

Changes in Your Sex Life

Most men experience some decline in erectile function after their prostate is removed, but this can be managed. “It can take six months or even up to a year for the affected nerves to recover from surgery. But with proper therapy and treatment, most patients can have good erectile function again,” says Dr. Fam.

Treatment options include:

  • Medication
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises
  • Penile implants
  • Counseling

Work with your doctor to find a treatment that is right for you.

Another change to expect in your sex life is that, because the seminal vesicles are removed during surgery, you won’t ejaculate semen during orgasm.

Bladder Problems

Urinary incontinence is another common side effect of prostate removal. You might dribble or leak urine when sneezing or laughing, or feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom.

If you had normal urinary control before your surgery, you will likely regain this control over time. For most men, urinary incontinence will go away within a year, often within months.

Whether your surgery is robotic or the traditional open approach can impact how severe your symptoms are and how long they last. “With the robot, we’re able to really preserve the length of the urethra and preserve all the muscles that control continence,” says Dr. Fam. Though minor incontinence still occurs with robotic surgery, most men will have full control of their bladder after about six to eight weeks.

If you are suffering from incontinence, there are treatment options that can help, including:

  • Medication
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Artificial urinary sphincters (an implanted device to treat moderate to severe stress urinary incontinence)

Talk to your doctor to find the right treatment option.

Next Steps & Resources

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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