Hernia Repair Surgery: Types and Recovery
Hernia occurs when a weak part in the connective tissue or surrounding muscle causes an individual’s intestine to protrude. These hernias are common and may cause certain issues and discomfort. Oftentimes, they are perceived as a bulge, but there are cases that hernias may go unnoticed until it is discovered by a healthcare professional.
Treatment for hernia varies depending on its type and severity. Here’s an overview of the types, symptoms, and most common causes of hernia.
Types of Hernia
The different types of hernia include:
Groin Hernias (Inguinal and Femoral)
The two hernias that occur in the groin are inguinal and femoral hernias. 96% of groin hernias are found in the inguinal area, and the remaining 4% accounts for femoral hernias.
The weak areas that cause inguinal hernias may be present at birth. These usually happen in children and become evident when intestines pass through the weak spot and form a bulge. In other cases, the weak area can develop over time.
A ventral hernia is a hole or opening through a strong connective tissue and muscle on the abdominal wall. They can form anywhere in the abdomen.
A hernia that forms on the abdominal area after surgery through the incision site is called incisional hernia. For instance, a long incision in the abdomen can cause small hernia anywhere along the incision line. Also, this type of hernia is sometimes called a ‘recurrent’ hernia. Recurrent hernias are hernias that have been repaired previously.
An umbilical hernia is caused by a weak spot in the abdomen around the belly button, otherwise known as the umbilicus. The weakness on these areas creates an opening, which allows protrusion of the intestines in the abdominal wall. It can also form a bulge under the skin in or around the umbilicus.
This type of hernia is different from others because instead of intestines, the stomach protrudes through the weak spot of the muscles and connective tissues. It happens when a portion of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm and the chest wall.
Most people with this type of hernia doesn’t experience symptoms like that of other hernias. Typically, the only complaint of patients who have a hiatal hernia is “heartburn.”
Common Signs and Symptoms of Hernia include:
- A bulge or protrusion of intestine or stomach
- Abdominal pressure
- Abdominal pain
- Symptoms that may worsen when straining or coughing
Causes and Risk Factors of Hernia:
- Chronic cough
- Straining when lifting heavy objects
- Premature birth
- Certain medications like steroids
Surgical Treatment Options
There are two methods for hernia repair, the open technique, and the laparoscopic technique.
This is the traditional approach of performing surgery. To treat the hernia, an incision is created. Then the fat or intestine that is protruding through the opening is reduced into the abdomen. The defect is then repaired through the incision and closed.
There are two ways to repair a hernia with the open technique.
- Herniorrhaphy (Herniated Tissue Repair). The first method makes use of sutures to connect the muscles and tissues back together. For larger hernias, this can cause tension (in the repaired hernia) which may result in a failed hernia repair and cause a recurrence. Herniorrhaphy involves making a long incision over the site of the hernia using surgical tools to access the displaced intestine or other organs. The surgeon will then return these protruded or displaced parts to its original location. The area will be sterilized and closed.
- Hernioplasty (Mesh Repair). Mesh is a flexible, soft, woven, plastic-like material that has been used for hernia repair for many years. This approach has dramatically reduced hernia recurrence. Many surgeons recommend the use of mesh for umbilical hernia repairs, but others only recommend the use of mesh in larger hernias. There are also different types of mesh, but most are well-accepted by patients’ bodies, and usually allow tissues to grow into them. Hernioplasty is also known as ‘tension-free hernia repair.’
The laparoscopic technique is a form of minimally invasive surgery where 3 to 4 small incisions are made in certain areas of the abdomen. Then, a long, thin instrument called a laparoscope with a video camera is inserted. The surgeon will then temporarily inflate the abdomen with gas to have space to work in the abdominal wall.
Hernia Repair Recovery
If there are no complications from surgery, patients may go home the same day. Pain medications may be given because post-operative pain may be experienced. Recovery time varies from patient to patient. Some may only need pain medication the day after surgery, but others may require a couple of days.
Patients may go back to work few days after the operation, as long as the job does not require heavy lifting or strenuous physical activity. Full recovery may be delayed up to 6 weeks post-surgery.
At present, surgery is the only way to fix hernias, but not all types of hernias need to be treated with surgery. If you don’t have symptoms, treatment may be unnecessary. However, if signs and symptoms of hernia bother you, you may talk to your doctor or set up an appointment with one at Pine Creek Medical Center. We have highly-skilled surgeons who perform hernia repairs right here at one of the best in hospitals in Dallas, Texas.
- “Carolinas Hernia Handbook.” Carolinas HealthCare System is Atrium Health . <http://www.carolinashealthcare.org/documents/cmc/clasp/herniaebookfull.pdf>.
- “Common Types of Hernia.” Tufts Health Plan – Health Insurance in MA and RI. <http://www.network-health.org/uploadedFiles/Healthwise_IX_mailers/aba5300csp.pdf>.
- “Open Hernia Repair.” Welcome — UNC School of Medicine. <http://www.med.unc.edu/surgery/education/files/articles/Open%20Hernia%20Repair.pdf>.
- “Definition of Herniorrhaphy.” Web. <http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=16038>.