Hernias are among the most common problems that general surgeons treat. A hernia occurs when an organ or segment of tissue protrudes through a hole in the muscle wall that should hold it in place. This hole can result either from previous surgery in that area, from increased pressure due to obesity, or from a natural opening or muscle weakness that is present at birth and turns into a problem over time.

Symptoms of a Hernia

Since a hernia is a protrusion, it can generally be felt and even seen under the skin. In addition to visual evidence, hernias sometimes present with pain in the region, though not always. If it’s an organ that is protruding and is trapped in the muscle wall (known as incarceration), problems with that organ may result. For example, if the bowel has become incarcerated in the abdominal wall, the patient may notice problems with digestion.

Hernias can appear at any time in men as well as women. Once they occur, they do not resolve on their own. Though sometimes the organ or tissue may pop in and out of the hole, the hole will not heal over time. So, to prevent incarceration and loss of blood flow to the incarcerated segment of tissue or organ, surgery is necessary.

Types of Hernias

There are three primary kinds of hernias that we treat. Please follow the links for each type to learn more about it.

  • Inguinal/femoral hernias, which are located in the groin
  • Ventral/incisional hernias which are located in the abdominal wall
  • Paraesophageal hernias, which are located at the bottom of the esophagus and commonly known as hiatal hernias

Hernia Surgery Basics

With so many types of hernias and the unique needs of each patient, there are many different approaches to surgery and recovery, and your surgeon will guide you through the best approach for you. But, there are some basics related to many hernia repairs that you can familiarize yourself with.

The first is that mesh is often the preferred method of repair. Rather than suturing the body’s tissue together at the site of the opening, sewing in mesh can help to strengthen that weak spot and reduce the risk of recurrence. The location and severity of the hernia plays a major role in deciding what type of mesh to use and how to incorporate it into the repair.

If the organ caught in the hernia has become strangulated (i.e., lost blood flow) and that section has started to die, part of the organ may need to be removed and the hernia then repaired.

Many hernias can be repaired laparoscopically, which is great news for patients. This reduces scarring and hospital stays. It also speeds up recoveries. Furthermore, because the incisions made are small, this could also lower the chance for recurring incisional hernias.

Your hernia surgery, whether open or laparoscopic, will require general anesthesia and may be followed by a short hospital stay. It will be important to take it easy in the first few weeks after you go home, particularly in terms of lifting heavy objects or other strenuous activity.

Overall, the surgery and resultant recovery will vary from patient to patient. So, to get the best understanding of your prognosis, ask plenty of questions when you come in for your appointment.