If you’re struggling with the daily challenges and anxieties that can come with fecal incontinence, you need a specialist who has an expert understanding of this condition and is skilled in providing the best possible treatments. At Mount Sinai, our colon and rectal surgeons have extensive experience with both surgical and non-surgical options that could help you regain control and get back to the activities that matter most to you.
About Fecal Incontinence
Fecal incontinence is difficulty controlling gas, liquid, or solid stool. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including childbirth (which may injure the anal muscles), chronic constipation, or surgery to the bowel, prostate, or rectum. The resulting loss of control can lead to feelings of isolation and anxiety in patients who worry about leaking stool in public or social settings.
Treatments for Fecal Incontinence
At Mount Sinai, we understand the concerns of patients dealing with fecal incontinence and take away any stigma associated with this condition. Our care begins with listening to you and your symptoms in order to start planning the right course of treatment.
With extensive experience treating fecal incontinence, our team takes a multidisciplinary approach to care, bringing specialists in urinary issues, vaginal prolapse, and pelvic floor disorders together to coordinate comprehensive treatments for fecal incontinence and related conditions.
There are a range of non-surgical therapies for fecal incontinence, which include the following:
- Dietary modifications: Changes to daily diet could include moderating foods that sometimes cause incontinence, such as alcohol, caffeine, dairy products, greasy dishes, and sweeteners. Increasing daily fiber intake may also help to thicken stool.
- Pelvic floor exercises and bowel retraining: Our specialists can help you learn exercises to strengthen the anal muscles and pelvic floor, therefore increasing your ability to control bowel movements.
If non-surgical therapies don’t work well enough, our specialists will choose the best surgical treatment based on the cause of incontinence and your general health. Surgical options include the following:
- Sacral nerve stimulator: A device called a sacral nerve stimulator can be surgically placed in the body, where it works as a pacemaker for the pelvic floor muscle to maintain continence. This same-day surgery has achieved great results for a number of patients.
- Rectal sphincter repair: For patients whose sphincter isn’t working well due to aging or injuries from obstetrical issues, trauma, or previous surgeries, this procedure tightens the sphincter in order to help the anus close more effectively.
- Gracilis muscle flap: This procedure takes the gracilis muscle from the inner thigh and wraps it around the sphincter and anal opening to restore the normal anatomy and provide bulk to the area. This is sometimes done in conjunction with the sacral nerve stimulator.