Surgical Options: Traditional vs No-Scalpel Vasectomy


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A vasectomy is a popular form of surgical contraception among men. At the time of writing, 1 in every four men in Australia above the age of 40 had undergone a vasectomy for various reasons.

This simple surgical procedure is a form of birth control for men where the sperm is prevented from leaving the body. Before the 1980s, the only form of vasectomy known to men was the traditional route, where incisions were created to prevent the sperm from coming out.

Since the 1980s, the no scalpel vasectomy has taken precedence over the traditional method as it was less invasive and required a comparatively shorter recovery time.

How Does a Vasectomy Work?

A vasectomy is a simple birth control procedure for men with high efficacy. In this surgical procedure, the surgeon stops the sperms from reaching the testicles. While the person can still ejaculate, the fluid will not contain any sperms, effectively preventing pregnancy.

Your testicles produce the sperm, and the seminal vesicles and prostate have the seminal fluid. The sperms and seminal fluid mix and flows through the vas deferens tube to the urethra, from where it is ejaculated outside the body.

In a vasectomy, the doctors surgically block the vas deferens and seal the cut ends. While you physically look the same with no visual difference in your testicles, penis, or scrotum, the internal pathway of the sperm is blocked. While the male reproductive system will still produce sperm, it won’t be a part of the ejaculating fluid anymore.

Currently, there are two kinds of vasectomy performed by doctors, namely, traditional vasectomy and no scalpel vasectomy. Let’s explore and understand these surgical options in more detail.

What is Traditional Vasectomy?

In a traditional vasectomy, the surgeon performs small incisions on your scrotum after numbing the area with local anesthesia. The incisions will expose the vas deferens tubes, which the doctors will either cut and seal the ends either by cauterizing them or tying them up.

Once it is done, the incision is closed with the help of stitches, and the patient will be transferred to a recovery room. The procedure usually takes place at the doctor’s chambers and does not last for more than half an hour.

The recovery time, however, varies from one individual to the other. Usually, it will take a few days for the swelling to go down and the discomfort to subside. Once that is gone, you will feel completely normal again.

What is No Scalpel Vasectomy?

A recent alternative to traditional vasectomy, the no scalpel vasectomy, is not invasive and does not use surgical tools like a scalpel to tie up the tubes. In this method, the doctor will numb the skin of the scrotum using a local anesthetic. While some doctors administer it with the help of a needle, others also use topical numbing sprays.

Instead of making an incision like a traditional vasectomy, in the no scalpel method, the doctor makes a tiny puncture in the skin to stretch it aside gently and expose the vas deferens. From here, the procedure is exactly like a traditional vasectomy. Once the tubes have been tied, the scrotum skin puncture closes immediately without needing any stitches.

Traditional Vs No Scalpel Vasectomy: Which One to Choose?

In terms of efficacy, both vasectomy methods are equally effective. The difference arises in operation, pain, and recovery time.

Access to the Vas Deferens

The first factor of difference is how the doctor gains access to the vas deferens. While incisions are made in the traditional method, in the no scalpel vasectomy, the doctor punctures the skin to carry out the procedure. Despite this difference, the result is the same.

Risk of Contracting An Infection

Given that the no scalpel method does not make incisions on the side of the scrotum, the chances of getting an infection are less than one per cent. According to a 2014 study, bruising, infections, and other complications are five times less likely to occur with no scalpel vasectomy.

Pain After Surgery

Traditional and no scalpel vasectomy both uses numbing agents to induce local anesthesia in the area. So, whatever pain you will feel will be after the surgery. Compared to conventional vasectomy, the no scalpel alternative is associated with a much lower pain score and discomfort due to the absence of sutures and incisions. No incision means less bleeding and no stitches that reduce the pain score by a huge margin.

Recovery Time

Patients usually take almost a week to return to normal life after a traditional vasectomy due to swelling, bruising, and soreness. These issues can be completely avoided in no scalpel vasectomy, with the patient recovering in mere days. There is also much less swelling and bruising with this procedure.

In Conclusion

While both these methods of vasectomies are equally effective, most people prefer the no scalpel method over the traditional one due to low recovery time and pain. The ultimate decision, however, is up to your doctor, who will guide you in the right direction.