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What Is a Simple Prostatectomy?

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 17, 2021

The walnut-sized gland underneath a man’s bladder that surrounds his urethra is called a prostate. As men get older, it’s common for their prostate glands to continue to grow or enlarge. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). When BPH occurs, pressure from an enlarged prostate can block normal urine flow and cause problems such as:

  • Difficulty urinating or inability to urinate
  • Slow urination or urination that stops and starts again
  • Frequently feeling like you need to urinate and often waking up at night to urinate
  • Feeling like your bladder is not completely empty
  • Urinary tract infections

A simple prostatectomy is a surgical procedure to remove part of your prostate and relieve the urinary problems that BPH causes. Here is what you need to know about simple prostatectomy procedures, risks, and recovery. 

How Is a Simple Prostatectomy Performed?

Simple prostatectomies are performed using either open surgery or robotically-assisted surgical techniques. 

Open surgery is the traditional method used for performing a simple prostatectomy. This method is used on people who have very enlarged prostates, damaged bladders, or other complications. Surgeons perform open surgery by making a large incision in your abdomen to reach your prostate.

Open surgery is not used as often as robotic surgery, though, because it is more invasive and carries a greater risk of blood loss than robotic surgery.

Robotic surgery is preferable because it allows surgeons to operate using small ports instead of cutting large open incisions. A small camera—called an endoscope—and specially designed surgical instruments are inserted through the ports for the procedure. People who have had a robotically-assisted prostatectomy typically have shorter hospital stays than people who have traditional open surgery, because it is much less invasive.

Typically, both open and robotic surgical methods have similar benefits and outcomes. Your doctor will decide which is the best option for you based on your symptoms, needs, and medical history.

What Happens During a Simple Prostatectomy Procedure?

During open surgery, your surgeon will cut one large incision below your belly button and above your pubic bone. Robotic surgeries use several small incision ports on various parts of your lower abdomen.

In both open and robotic simple prostatectomy procedures, you will be put under general anesthesia while your doctor removes the part of your prostate that is putting pressure on your urinary tract and blocking the flow of urine.

Your doctor might first insert a cystoscope, which is a long long flexible camera, into your penis to see the size of your prostate and check the inside of your urethra and bladder. You will then have a catheter inserted to keep urine drained from your bladder. 

After your simple prostatectomy surgery is complete, you might have other drainage tubes inserted into your bladder or near the part of your prostate that was removed. You will be given medication to control any pain and asked to walk and do simple bed exercises during your hospital stay.

Before you are sent home, the drainage tubes that were inserted after the surgery will be removed. It can take some time to regain your urinary control, so you will be sent home with a catheter. Many men need to use the catheters for about a week after surgery.

What Are Simple Prostatectomy Risks?

Simple prostatectomies are common and safe procedures, though as with all surgeries, there are some risks involved. Some possible simple prostatectomy risks include:

  • Side effects from anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Dry orgasm (no ejaculate)
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Incontinence (leaking urine)
  • Frequently needing to urinate
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Pain while urinating or bloody urine
  • Narrowed urethra

How Long Is Simple Prostatectomy Recovery?

Recovery times for simple prostatectomy surgeries can be different for each person, depending on various health factors and the type of surgical method that was used.

You can expect to go home within one or two days after surgery. In the weeks and months after surgery, you will likely have to visit your doctor several times to have any staples removed and to check your progress and condition. You should be able to resume most of your daily routine within about four to six weeks after surgery, but you might have some heavy lifting and driving restrictions.

It can take as long as a year for some men to regain full urinary control and 18 months to regain full erectile function. Remember to take things slowly and talk with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: "Benign (Non-Cancerous) Prostate Surgery,” “Robotic Prostate Surgery.”

International Neurology Journal: “Robotic Simple Prostatectomy: Why and How?”

Mayo Clinic: “Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)," “Prostatectomy.”

PubMed: “Robot-Assisted Versus Open Simple Prostatectomy for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia in Large Glands: A Propensity Score-Matched Comparison oof Perioperative and Short-Term Outcomes.”

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