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Tufts MC welcomes new Chief of Urogynecology, Dr. Diego Illanes

Diego Illanes, MDTufts Medical Center recently welcomed Diego Illanes, MD as the new Chief of Urogynecology/Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. He sees female patients for a wide variety of conditions, including urinary and fecal incontinence, interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, uterine and vaginal prolapse, recurring urinary tract infections and the repair of bladder and bowel fistulas. With expertise in minimally invasive methods, Dr. Illanes utilizes physical therapy, nutritional and multidisciplinary approaches, and when necessary, surgery.

“When conservative management fails, my focus in surgery is on easy recovery,” says Dr. Illanes, who specializes in both vaginal and robotic techniques. “I’m really interested in how much less we can do to achieve the same outcome. Patients are often amazed when I tell them how quickly they can return home after surgery and how fast they can get back to work and activities.” 

Dr. Illanes actively implements Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) for all of his surgical patients. ERAS is a set of evidence-based protocols used before, during and after surgery that have been shown to reduce the stress of surgery and speed recovery. An important benefit of Dr. Illanes’s approach is that patients often require very little or no opioid medications

“Less pain medication means patients are able to push themselves more while recovering, allowing for a faster return to their usual daily activity, which is important at any age. Whether I’m working with a 25 or a 95 year old patient, the fewer restrictions, the better,” he says. 

Dr. Illanes says it makes patients feel better to know they can get back to walking, go to the gym, swim, and without the need for opioids, start driving again sooner. But what he finds most gratifying is restoring quality of life, especially for those who feel socially isolated because of their condition. 

“With these complex cases, it can be like night and day,” said Dr. Illanes. “A repair that can be done in two or three hours gets the patient home the same day and really changes her quality of life.” 

In addition to seeing patients, Dr. Illanes is very interested in resident surgical education, particularly in vaginal surgery and robotics training. His research interests include biomaterials, with special interest in the use of stem cells to enhance outcomes in pelvic floor surgery. 

Dr. Illanes joined Tufts MC from Reliant Medical Group in western Massachusetts where he served as the Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. A former United States Air Force flight surgeon, originally from Argentina, Dr. Illanes earned his medical degree from the Universidad Católica de Córdoba. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology and a fellowship in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at University of Massachusetts Medical School.