Hernia Repair: Indications and Complications

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Hernia repairs are fairly common procedures in the whole world. What is a hernia, though? A hernia is the result of the inner layers of your abdominal muscles weakening. When this happens, the lining of your abdomen may bulge out into a sac far enough that additional parts of abdominal tissue or part of your intestine may slip out of place. Usually, hernias occur in the groin or navel areas or near incision sites from previous surgeries. 

Because hernias are common, hernia repairs are, as well, because surgery is the only method of repairing them. Unlike some medical conditions, hernias won’t resolve on their own.

Different Types of Hernias

There are a few different types of hernias, including the following:

  • Reducible Hernia: With this type of hernia, repairing it involves pushing the hernia back through the opening it slipped through. 
  • Strangulated Hernia: This type of hernia occurs when part of the abdominal tissue or intestine becomes stuck, potentially cutting off the blood supply. 
  • Irreducible or Incarcerated Hernia: This is when the abdominal tissue or intestine completely fills the hernia sac to the point where it cannot re-enter through the opening it slipped through.

Hernia Symptoms

It’s important to note that hernias don’t always present symptoms, and in many cases, symptoms may take one to two years to become noticeable. In some cases, you may notice symptoms while exercising or taking part in other strenuous activities. Some symptoms and other factors to be mindful of when determining whether it’s time to consult your doctor to discuss surgery include the following:

  • Sharp Abdominal Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Discomfort or Pain Intensifying Over Time
  • Discomfort or Pain Interfering with Daily Tasks
  • Persistent Abdominal Discomfort or Pain 
  • Fast-Growing or Large Hernias

Types of Hernia Repairs

If you have a hernia that is causing pain or discomfort, your doctor may recommend one of the following types of hernia repairs:

  • Herniorrhaphy: This is the oldest and most common type of hernia repair. This surgical procedure involves your doctor making an incision over your hernia. From there, he or she will open the incision enough to move the displaced tissue or organ back to its proper place. Your doctor will also remove your hernia sac and then stitch the weakened muscle back together to prevent future hernias. Once completed, he or she will stitch the wound shut.
  • HernioplastyUnlike a herniorrhaphy procedure, a hernioplasty procedure involves covering a weakened muscle opening with a piece of sterile mesh, such as animal tissue or polypropylene. Once in position, your doctor will stitch the mesh into healthy tissue, so the weakened tissues can use it for support as they regrow and become stronger. The procedure is also known as a tension-free hernia repair.

Hernia Recovery: What to Expect

In most cases, your doctor can complete a hernia repair in a single day. In addition, the recovery period is fairly simple and short compared to other surgeries. Before your doctor discharges you, he or she will discuss any activities you should avoid. Most people fully recover within three to six weeks.