A hernia is a condition in which an internal organ or body part squeezes or pokes through a weak spot in the surrounding muscle or tissue. It can occur in different places in the body: in the groin (inguinal hernia); in the inner thigh (femoral hernia); at the umbilicus or belly button (umbilical hernia); and in the chest cavity (hiatal hernia). The most common of these is inguinal hernia, accounting for roughly 75 percent of all abdominal wall hernias.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of hernia, such as swelling or a bulge in your groin, increased pain or pressure at the area of the bulge, and pain that worsens with activity (especially when lifting objects), see your primary care physician (PCP) right away for a prompt assessment. Surgery (hernia repair) is usually required for a symptomatic hernia and an incarcerated or strangulated hernia, which is a potentially life-threatening complication. In such cases, your PCP will give you a referral to a general surgeon for immediate intervention. The goal of hernia repair surgery is to place the displaced tissue or organ back inside the body part that’s supposed to contain it and keep it there.
Read on to get a general understanding of hernia repair, particularly what to expect during the procedure and what the recovery entails.
What Happens During a Hernia Repair Procedure?
Hernia repair is done via the traditional approach (open surgery) or the minimally invasive approach (laparoscopic/robotic). Both approaches may or may not involve the use of a surgical mesh—a device that provides additional support to the damaged tissue around the hernia as it heals.
Open hernia repair may be performed under local, spinal, or general anesthesia. It involves your surgeon creating an incision in the abdomen or in the groin. Your surgeon then pushes the protruding tissue or intestine back inside, sometimes reinforcing it with a surgical mesh. Your doctor then closes the incision with staples or stitches.
Laparoscopic/robotic hernia repair, on the other hand, is typically performed under general anesthesia. It involves your surgeon operating through several small incisions in your abdomen and using carbon dioxide gas to inflate it to make your internal organs easier to visualize. Your surgeon then inserts a thin, lighted tube equipped with a video camera known as a laparoscope into one incision. Guided by the laparoscope, your surgeon then places the miniature surgical instruments into the other incisions to repair the hernia.
Laparoscopic hernia repair may be recommended if your hernia has recurred after you’ve had open hernia repair, or if you have bilateral hernia (occurring in both sides of your groin).
The minimally invasive approach is associated with less discomfort, lower risk of complications, and quicker recovery.
Recovery After a Hernia Repair
Hernia repairs are usually done on an outpatient basis, meaning you can go home on the same day, typically within 2-4 hours after the procedure. Once your care team has made sure that your anesthesia has largely worn off, and there is very minimal risk for complications, they will give you clearance to go home.
Since the procedure involves sedation, it’s imperative that you have someone drive for you. Once you get home, keep an eye out on how you’re feeling. Call your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms, such as high fever (101 degrees); severe pain, unusual drainage from the incision, and/or inability to urinate; and nausea or vomiting lasting longer than 4 hours.
Recovery time for hernia repair takes about three weeks. Make sure to follow your care team’s discharge instructions to ensure a successful recovery and possibly prevent recurrence of hernia. Your postoperative care instructions may include the following:
- Getting enough rest
- Keeping your incision dry for at least 24 hours
- Avoiding lifting heavy objects (anything heavier than 20 pounds)
- Doing light exercises (moving slowly and gradually)
- Taking your medications as directed
Hernia Repair Experts in Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch, FL
At Intercoastal Medical Group, our board certified general surgeons combine their clinical acumen and technical skills with advanced technology to ensure the best possible patient outcomes for hernia repair and many other types of surgical procedures. We will be with you every step of the way—until you’re well on your road to recovery.
To consult one of our general surgeons, please get a referral from your PCP. If you’re not currently under the care of a PCP, you may schedule an appointment with one of our highly credentialed family physicians or internists, who will gladly coordinate your care. Call us at our office nearest you, or simply use this appointment request form. We look forward to serving you!