Mr Neil Barber
Gary Keen needed to urinate more frequently and urgently due to an enlarged prostate. A minimally invasive procedure reduced his symptoms — and ultimately changed his life.
In his mid-fifties, Gary Keen began to experience what is euphemistically referred to as ‘problems with his waterworks’. He found he needed to urinate more frequently but, afterwards, felt he hadn’t emptied his bladder properly, so would have to go again a short time later. In sitcoms, this condition is often a source of humour (think Private Godfrey in Dad’s Army, always asking ‘to be excused’ in order to spend a penny).
The thing is, when it’s happening to you, it’s no laughing matter. In fact, it’s miserable. “If I was going out during the day, I’d have to pick routes where I knew I’d be able to go to the loo,” says Gary. “And I’d never get a decent night’s sleep because I’d be waking up all the time for a wee; and getting out of bed constantly interrupted my wife’s sleep. So it disrupted my life and my family life.”
Symptoms of non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate
After seeing his GP and undergoing various tests, Gary was diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate.
This is a common condition in men over 50 and occurs when the enlarged prostate squeezes on the bladder and urethra, causing symptoms including a need to urinate urgently and/or frequently, and poor urine flow.
“First, I was put on bladder weakness medication for 18 months, but that didn’t work,” remembers Gary. “I was then given medication to reduce prostate size — but that wasn’t effective either.”
If I was going out during the day, I’d have to pick routes where I knew I’d be able to go to the loo.
Available treatment for BPH
Traditional surgery is available to BPH patients but involves cutting away enlarged tissue and can affect sexual function, among other side-effects. It also requires an in-patient stay and a more prolonged recovery time.
It was only when Gary saw consultant urologist, Mr Neil Barber, that he found an alternative solution to relieve his symptoms: a minimally invasive procedure called The UroLift® System, which lifts the enlarged prostate tissue so that it doesn’t block the urethra.
“I had sedation rather than a general anaesthetic and surgery took around 20 minutes,” says Gary. “I was home the same day, didn’t require a catheter post-surgery and recovery was quick. I was simply told to drink lots of fluids to keep the urinary tract clear — and, while it was uncomfortable for a few days, I was back to normal in about a week.”
Why men delay seeking treatment for BPH
Men often don’t realise how much they are affected by BPH until treatment improves it, says Mr Barber. “Some men are embarrassed about the condition so they delay seeing their doctor,” he notes.
However, Mr Barber urges anyone with symptoms to see their GP. “There are several unique advantages of this procedure which include; quick recovery, patients generally leave the same day and without a catheter and this treatment completely preserves sexual function. This option generally appeals to younger men and those looking for a quicker recovery and improvement in quality of life. However, the procedure is not always suitable for everyone and this is determined by a few diagnostic tests.”
Gary had the procedure a few days before his 60th birthday, and his life has improved immeasurably. “I don’t feel the need to urinate so frequently and my sleep isn’t broken in the way it used to be,” he says. “I would say to anyone who’s having the same symptoms: don’t live in denial. See your doctor, get tested — and if you have BPH, find out if you qualify for this procedure.”