Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to BPH treatment.
The UroLift is a surgical procedure that’s cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is the medical term for an enlarged prostate. The company behind UroLift claims that the procedure provides “rapid relief and recovery,” and that it can preserve sexual function better than prescription medications for BPH.
But is UroLift actually proven to work in medical studies? Does the procedure cause any concerning side effects? How does UroLift work? And how do real patients describe the procedure and its benefits and downsides?
In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we review clinical trials on UroLift to determine if it's effective or not, document side effects of the procedure, explain how it works and share real, unsponsored user reviews of UroLift.
What is UroLift and How Does it Work?
The UroLift procedure uses implants to create more space in the urethra.
When patients have an enlarged prostate, their urethra can become partially or fully blocked, leading to difficulty urinating and a constant feeling of urgency to urinate, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
While an enlarged prostate typically isn’t a life-threatening condition, it can seriously impact quality of life because the symptoms can be near-constant.
The UroLift device is inserted into the urethra and then implants are placed which hold the enlarged prostate tissue out of the way of urethral flow, similar to how stents are used for patients with cardiovascular disease to clear space in a blocked artery.
When urethral flow is normalized, patients experience fewer uncomfortable symptoms like frequent need to urinate which were caused by the enlarged prostate interference.
The animated video below published by UroLift is only one minute long and provides a visual explanation of how the device works:
Does UroLift Reduce BPH Symptoms?
UroLift has been studied in clinical trials to determine how much it can reduce BPH symptoms.
A medical review published in the Expert Review of Medical Devices journal analyzed the effectiveness of the UroLift based on multiple clinical trials.
The researchers found that UroLift was effective in decreasing BPH symptoms like frequent urination, but only in patients with small or medium sized prostates, and who didn’t have median lobe enlargement. They did note that UroLift was a good option for preserving sexual function, which proves the health claims made by the company accurate.
Patients who received the UroLift surgery had no negative impact on sexual function. Since pharmaceutical treatments for BPH often have sexual side effects, this suggests that UroLift is a better option for patients who are sexually active than pharmaceutical treatments for BPH.
A more recent medical review reached similar conclusions: the UroLift was effective on average for improving symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate and stabilizing sexual function.
The study authors found that the UroLift device was durable, with no visible signs of corrosion or damage after 15 months. They also noted that UroLift appears safer than prostatic stents because the risk of side effects is much lower.
This study authors stated that UroLift is “the only BPH procedure that has not been associated with new onset sustained erectile or ejaculatory dysfunction.”
We will conclude that the UroLift device is effective for treating symptoms of BPH, and appears superior to surgical and pharmaceutical options, especially for patients that are sexually active.
Real, Unsponsored UroLift Patient Review
One of the most popular reviews of UroLift on Youtube is published by a creator named Frank McGowan. This is the only UroLift review we could find from a real patient unassociated with any urology clinics or the brand itself.
Frank overviews the benefits and side effects he experienced from the procedure, what the recovery timeline is, and whether he recommends UroLift two years later:
UroLift Side Effects
While the UroLift appears relatively safe, it does have the risk of side effects, which shouldn’t be surprising given that it’s a surgical procedure.
A UroLift review published in the Urology journal found that the most common side effects were pelvic pain and discomfort or burning with urination. The percentages of patients experiencing those side effects were not reported. No major complications were noted.
A meta-study of the UroLift published in 2015 described the treatment as “minimally invasive” and noted “no relevant side effects.”
An above-cited trial noted that the UroLift device had a 0.004% breakage rate which is quite low. This equates to only 28 out of 780,000 patients.
The UroLift appears to be one of the safer surgical treatments we’ve reviewed on Illuminate Health, with a side effect profile that seems free of major risk.
The cost of UroLift will vary substantially for patients in the U.S. based on health insurance.
A medical review of urinary treatments documented the cost of the UroLift surgery at over $6,000. This made it the most expensive treatment examined.
UroLift costs $3,500 more than Rezum, which is another popular BPH treatment option.
UroLift has a useful insurance codes resource on their website with information that prospective patients should check out. The resource provides the insurance codes used for their surgery, so that patients can check with their doctor and health insurer if the treatment will be covered.
We recommend that patients confirm with their health insurance provider (ideally in writing) that UroLift is covered, because the out-of-pocket cost is high.
Are There Active UroLift Lawsuits?
Patients are often curious about whether there are lawsuits regarding a medical procedure they're considering, because lawsuits can contain useful information about complaints and horror stories that might not be accessible on the brand's website.
In the case of UroLift, there do not appear to be any active lawsuits at the time of updating this article, and we cannot even locate any historical lawsuits related to UroLift.
This further suggests that this treatment is relatively safe, given that UroLift has been on the market for nearly a decade (it was initially approved in 2013).
Is BPH Caused By Vitamin D Deficiency?
A medical study published in the Canadian Journal of Urology found a strong association between vitamin D deficiency and BPH. The researchers found that supplementation of vitamin D analogues up to 6,000 International Units (IU) per day decreased prostate volume in patients with BPH.
This suggests that patients with BPH should get a vitamin D blood test done. If levels are low, it may be worthwhile to speak with your doctor about supplementing with vitamin D3 or vitamin D analogues before considering surgery.
Another meta-study published in the Clinical Nutrition journal confirmed these findings and had an even more direct conclusion after reviewing clinical research on vitamin D levels and BPH: "Increasing vitamin D intake from the diet or supplements reduces the prevalence of BPH. Vitamin D binds to specific receptors in the prostate and bladder, and reduces inflammation and prostate growth."
Many individuals at northern latitudes are chronically deficient in vitamin D, because it's impossible to synthesize vitamin D from the sun during winter months depending on latitude. This is why it's especially important for older men at higher risk of BPH to get annual bloodwork panels done which should include vitamin D levels.