A urologist in the University of Arizona Department of Surgery is the only one in Southern Arizona – and one of only two in the state – performing a virtually painless laser procedure to treat patients with enlarged prostates.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can be miserable for many men. Half of men over the age of 50 suffer from BPH, which causes narrowing of the urethra, making urinating more difficult. Symptoms include a slowing of the urinary stream, straining to urinate or a sensation of not emptying the bladder completely.
Holmium laser enucleation of the prostate, or HoLEP, is a procedure that is relatively new to the United States and is performed at The University of Arizona Medical Center by Joel Funk, MD, assistant professor in the UA Department of Surgery.
Dr. Funk is specially trained in the procedure, which can reduce the size of the prostate gland and increase the size of the channel through which urine flows.
“It is a very specialized procedure for urinary obstruction for enlarged prostates,’’ Dr. Funk said. “There is a steep learning curve. It takes patience and commitment to learn how to do it.’’
He said the procedure is superior to other treatments – including photovaporization or Greenlight laser, a common alternative to HoLEP – in that it causes little to no pain, can be performed on men regardless of prostate size and does not destroy the tissue, allowing the tissue to be evaluated for cancer.
In addition, for men with very enlarged prostates, HoLEP allows them to avoid an open operation involving an incision on the abdomen and a three-to-five-day hospital stay.
The procedure, which requires no incision and usually allows the patient to go home the same day, is life-changing, Dr. Funk said.
“I tell guys it’s like a light switch,’’ he said. “The first time they go to the bathroom, it’s like it was 35 years ago.’’
Left untreated, BPH can be more than just irritating, Dr. Funk said. “It causes interruption in sleep and embarrassment over having to be close to a bathroom,’’ he said. “And some dangerous complications can occur, including kidney failure caused by longstanding bladder infection or bladder stone formation.’’
To make an appointment with Dr. Funk, please call 520-694-4032.