Hernia Repair Surgery FAQ

Q: What Is Hernia?

A: Hernia is a medical term used to refer to a protrusion of tissue or an organ through the abnormal opening up of the mid-section. Most hernias, to this end, occur when a piece of the intestines slips through an area of weakness within the abdominal wall. When this happens, it creates a bulge that the patient feels and sees.

Hernias tend to develop in the groin, around the navel, and on any place where one might have undergone surgery. Whereas some are present from birth, others develop gradually over several months or years. However, some will also come about suddenly and without any prior warning.

Q: Who Treats Hernias?

A: Hernia will primarily be diagnosed by your regular doctor/physician. Primary care providers who can diagnose it include pediatricians, internists, and family practitioners. However, if you need further evaluation or surgery, the doctors will refer you to a general surgeon.

Q: What Should I Ask My Doctor When I Have Hernia?

A: To get more information about your particular condition, ask your primary healthcare provider the following questions:

– What type of hernia is this?

– How should I take care of it?

– Should I wait to see whether it will go away on its own or become worse?

– What is the best course of action if the hernia feels suddenly painful, swells up, or gets larger?

– What type of hernia repair surgery you should I get?

Q: What Exams and Tests Do Health-Care Professionals Use to Diagnose Hernia?

A: The doctor will first check the state of your physical health. If the hernia is obvious, doctors won’t have to perform any other test to diagnose you.  However, if you display the hernia symptoms (typically characterized by a dull ache in the body part affected, pain while lifting, straining and so on), then the doctor will feel the area out. They will, simultaneously, increase pressure on the abdomen. Some will make you cough or stand up during the diagnosis.

This action is effective at making doctors feel hernias. If you have an indirect inguinal hernia, your physician will feel through your body for its potential pathway. They will also invert the skin on the scrotum with their finger.

At times, doctors ask that you undergo a CT, ultrasound, or X-ray scan. They will also ask the following questions about your general state of health:

– When did you first notice the protrusion?

– Does it (the lump) come and go? Can you push it back inside?

– Has it grown more painful or larger?

– What physical activities aggravate the condition or give you discomfort?

If the doctor discovers that you have a hernia, they will either refer you to a general surgeon or recommend hernia repair surgery.

Q: Are Hernias Preventable?

A: Although you can minimize the risk of hernia, it is impossible to prevent them. In fact, some people are born with hernias and discover them later on in life.

Q: What Risk Factors Are Associated With Hernias?

A: Obesity, smoking, and age are the 3 primary risk factors associated with the development of hernias. Other factors include:

– Straining

– Lifting

– Pregnancy

– Previous surgical incisions

– Injured and/or weak muscles

Q: Why Do Hernias Hurt?

A: When you develop a hernia, you will feel discomfort whenever you stand for extended periods of time, lift something heavy, or cough. This discomfort will come about as a result of the constant pressure of the tissue forcing its way through the weak spot on your abdominal wall.

When more tissue manages to push through the area of weakness, the pressure will increase. This is why hernias that worsen or develop quickly tend to produce sudden and intense pain when they become larger.

Q: Who Gets Hernias?

A: Counting on data from the National Center for Health Statistics, around 5 million Americans get hernias. Inguinal hernias (those that develop in the groin area) are the most common especially among men. This is because there is unsupported space in the groin area that is left when testicles descend during adolescence to occupy the scrotum.

For women, the most common hernias occur in the femoral area – the top of the thigh. This mostly results from childbirth and pregnancy.

Children also suffer from hernia, while others develop hernias at the areas where a surgical incision was made in the past, or around the navel area.

Q: What Are The Symptoms Of Hernia?

A: You should be able to feel and see it if you get a hernia. You will notice a small lump in your groin or abdomen. This lump may or may not retract when you press on it or lay down.

You will always feel a dull ache that will become more pronounced whenever you become physically active. With time, the bulge/lump will grow bigger.

Q: What Causes Hernia?

A: Some people are naturally born with weaknesses within their abdominal wall. These weaknesses, however, also occur over time and/or from previous surgical incisions.

When the internal organs of the body push against the weakness, they will cause pressure and a hernia will result. Other common causes of hernias include obesity, smoking, and age – all of which contribute to the weakening of the tissue on the abdominal wall.

Q: How Are Hernias Diagnosed?

A: Your doctor will first evaluate your condition through a physical exam to determine whether you have a hernia. If they find out that you have one, they will refer you to a general surgeon or recommend hernia repair surgery.

Q: Is Medical Treatment Necessary For Hernia?

A: Yes, absolutely! It is important and necessary that you get your hernia corrected through surgery. Leaving it untreated will cause the hernia to increase in size and cause more pain to you.

Most importantly, hernias have been known to lead to serious life-threatening complications. Therefore, if you suspect you have a hernia, rush to the doctor’s office. They will confirm your suspicions and discuss any treatment options required to correct the condition.

Q: What Alternatives Do I Have?

A: In terms of medical treatment, there are several ways of dealing with hernias. If the hernia is small and causes no pain or discomfort, the doctor might advice that you wait and watch for what happens. However, if the hernia keeps on growing and starts causing pain, you’ll need to undergo hernia repair surgery.

The treatment of hernias depends on whether it is possibly strangulated and irreducible or reducible.

  1. Reducible Hernias

In most cases, all hernias ought to be repaired. This is the best way to avoid the potential strangulation of the intestines. However, if you have a medical condition that makes hernia repair surgery unsafe, your physician may choose to monitor the condition closely instead of repairing it immediately.

In rare cases, doctors do advise against repair surgery. This is especially so when there are special conditions revolving around the hernia.  For instance, the hernia may develop large openings within the abdominal wall. Here, it would not be feasible to close up the openings because of the large size.

Anyway, reducible hernias are usually treated without reparative surgery. Instead, doctors might choose to use abdominal binders until the hernia goes away. Some physicians also feel that hernias with large openings pose lower risk of intestinal strangulation. As such, surgery isn’t needed if you are found to be free of symptoms.

  1. Irreducible Hernias

Acutely irreducible hernias require immediate medical attention. They typically call for emergency hernia repair surgery because they come with the risk of intestinal strangulation.

First, however, the doctor will try to push back or reduce the hernia. They will give you medication to relax your muscles and reduce the pain you will potentially feel. If the reduction is unsuccessful, you will be recommended to a general surgeon for emergency surgery. However, if the hernia retracts, then the treatment plan that will be adopted will depend on the length of time the hernia is irreducible.

In case the inner contents of the hernia cut off the supply of blood, then you are at risk of developing a dead gangrenous bowel in a matter of hours. Similarly, if the hernia is strangulated over an extended period of time, reparative surgery will be performed to repair it and check whether the intestine is dead.

If the length of time during which the hernia was irreducible was relatively short, or if the doctor does not suspect gangrenous bowel, you might be discharged.

Anyway, hernias tend to become trapped and much more difficult to reduce. These types carry the increased risk of repeating the same. Therefore, if the hernia is irreducible, then you should undergo hernia repair surgery at the earliest opportunity possible.

On some occasions, the doctor might decide that the irreducible hernia isn’t a surgical emergency. In such cases, the hernia will be passed through the test of time to see if they lead to intestinal strangulation before being repaired through scheduled surgery.

Q: Do Hernias Always Require Surgery?

A: Surgery, in most cases, is the best cure for hernias. This is because hernias rarely go away on their own volition. However, you are lucky in the sense that there are many types of safe hernia repair surgery options available.

Still, not everyone will get their hernia treated through a surgery unless the doctor recommends it based on one’s medical history.

Q: What Is A Hernia Operation?

A: A hernia operation refers to hernia repair surgery designed to repair the weak tissue within the abdominal wall. By so doing, the surgeon will ensure that your internal tissues and intestines cannot push through the wall in the future.

Remember, the earlier you undergo repair, the smaller the hernia will get and the less the trauma you will experience from the surgery. Smaller hernias are, therefore, typically marked by a shorter period of recovery.

Q: How Do Surgeons Repair Hernias?

A: There are several hernia repair tactics used by the medical profession. These fall into 3 broad categories: tension-free repair, tension repair, and laparoscopic tension-free repair.

Your doctor, therefore, may suggest several techniques as idyllic for treating hernia. You should follow their advice carefully and ensure that you have a full understanding of the options open to you. This way, you will be better placed to make an informed decision about the surgical method that is best suited to your particular condition.

Q: Do I Need to Undergo Hernia Repair Surgery if the Bulge Doesn’t Hurt?

A: Absolutely yes! There are tons of reasons why such reparative surgery is vital. The chief of these, of course, revolves around the fact that hernias never repair themselves automatically. In most cases, actually, they will only get worse.

Therefore, every day that goes by with the hernia, the larger the protrusion becomes. Additionally, the passage of time makes your abdominal tissues less cooperative. All you will be doing, to this end, will be postponing treatment that you urgently do. At the same time, you might continue suffering various symptoms.

The obvious problems that arise from waiting too long to get a hernia repaired through surgery include strangulation, enlargement, and pain (all of which can happen suddenly, simultaneously, and without warning).

After the abdominal wall hernia has been diagnosed, consequently, you should seek to get it repaired at the earliest possible and through the best techniques currently available in your location.

Q: Do I Need to See a Doctor or Will It Go Away?

A: When you leave your hernia in the untreated condition, it will not become better with time. Instead, most hernias actually get worse for weeks, months, and/or years.

However, some hernias (the reducible type) can be pushed back into the system. These varieties do not pose an immediate danger to your wellness, health, and physical fecundity – although some may prove a bit painful. To this end, you should get such hernias checked and evaluated by your primary healthcare provider.

On the other hand, non-reducible hernia might prove to turn into a life threatening condition. This is especially so in case a segment of your intestines gets trapped (strangulated or incarcerated) in the opening. In case this happens, the flow of blood to the trapped tissue will be restricted heavily. This might end up causing serious damage to the tissue.

Q:   Should I Get Treatment from a Specialist Hernia Center? 

A: Hernia repair surgery is very much like other procedures within the same class. To this end, if you believe that other medical operations are better off dealt with by people who are specialized, then you shouldn’t think differently with regards to hernia.

Expert opinion in the industry has started recognizing the importance of hernia specialization – not only by surgeons but also by the units where the surgery is undertaken and by the rest of the professionals in the surgical team for treating hernia.

Q: Should I Seek Help Immediately? 

A: If you suspect that you have a hernia, you need to seek medical help immediately. This is because hernias ought to be seen as soon as they are spotted.

Q: Are There Specialists for Repairing Hernias?

A: Most hernia conditions are repaired by general surgeons. This is because hernia repair surgery is just one of the operations performed by these professionals. However, seeing as how the occurrence of hernias is not all that common, and there isn’t nearly enough interest in the subject, there is no specialization in hernias within the medical profession. This has, of course, resulted in the slow development of specialization and in modern hernia remediation techniques.

Q: What Are The Risks Of Hernia Surgery?

A: Like with other forms of surgery, hernia repair carries the risk of bleeding and/or infection. The risk of further complications will increase if the patient in question is a heavy drinker, does drugs, or smokes, is very old or very young, or has any other aggravating medical condition.

Additionally, there is also the chance – slight as it might be – that the nerves, blood vessels, bladder, and/or intestines might get injured over the course of the procedure. In some cases, extended scarring does occur

Q: What Type Of Anesthesia Will Be Used During Surgery?

A: The anesthesia you will receive will depend on a number of factors. These include:

– Your general health

– The type of hernia repair surgery being performed

– The facility where you go for the surgery

Most tension and tension free hernia repairs can be effected using spinal, local, general, and other types of anesthesia. However, the greater majority of laparoscopic tension free repairs will require the application of general anesthesia.

Q: What Can I Do To Feel Better?

A: Whereas the best person to advise you is the physician who diagnoses the hernia and the surgeon who performs the repair, you need to eliminate excess weight and limit your physical activity. Both of these options will provide temporary relief. Some people also receive temporary relief from wearing a binder or a truss.

However, the only cure for hernia is surgery. Through surgery, the doctors will correct the dangerously-strangulated hernia and prevent it from recurring. Additionally, the hernia repair surgery will eliminate the discomfort or pain that has been limiting your day to day life.

Even though there are always side effects and risks associated with surgical operations, modern surgery, knowledge, techniques, and equipment will ensure that you receive the treatment you need with speedy recovery, lasting relief, and minimal post-operative discomfort.

Q: How Long Does Hernia Repair Surgery Take?

A: The general surgeon will give you a walk-through to understand what to expect after they determine the best surgical approach to take to deal with your specific situation. Newer techniques, however, take around 30 minutes on the average. They also come with the advantage that they will be performed on the outpatient basis as well as the application of local anesthesia to dull the pain.  

Q: How Long Will Recovery Take?

A: Recovery time will depend on several factors. These include, but are not limited to, your typical levels of physical activity, the procedure used by the surgeon, and the type of hernia in question.

Under most circumstances, however, hernia repair surgery is performed on the outpatient basis. Therefore, you should be back home on the same day as the surgery. Of course, you might end up feeling some discomfort walking – such as up a flight of steps. This is normal for the first couple of days after surgery. You won’t, however, be able to do anything particularly strenuous or drive during the first week following the procedure.

Some patients do experience minimal discomfort or pain. Still, the great majority are usually back to normal in a couple of days. The best solution is to discuss all possibilities with your surgeon before you undergo hernia repair surgery.

Q: Can I Get Back to Work Immediately?

A: How soon you will be able to go back to your regular job will depend on your career and what your work involves. Full recovery from your hernia surgery will typically take anything between one and six weeks.

Therefore, if your job is particularly strenuous, or if it entails heavy lifting and physical activity, you should take some time off. This is because it will be a couple of weeks before you will be able to go back to work. However, in case you do your job sitting or at a desk, you should be able to resume normal operations in a couple of days.

Whatever the case, you should ask your primary healthcare professional – as well as the surgeon who performed the hernia repair – for further advice. They will inform you when it is best to go back to your workplace and resume your typical day to day lifestyle.

Q: What are the chances my hernia will come back?

A: The chance of recurrence is highly minimal. This is because the surgeon who will operate on your hernia will typically have the training, knowledge, experience, and tools of trade to ensure that they fix the problem permanently.

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