Hernia Surgery

Treatment for Severe Hernias

Hernia repair is one of the most common surgeries performed in the U.S. today. More than a million people undergo hernia repair surgery in the U.S. each year, 800,000 of them for inguinal hernias.

Most hernias are caused by a combination of pressure on an area where there is a weakness in the muscle or connective tissue. When an organ, intestine or fatty tissue squeezes through that weak spot, it creates a hernia. Sometimes a hernia presents as a visible external bulge.

Common Hernia Types

  • Inguinal – Inner groin
  • Femoral – Upper thigh/outer groin
  • Incisional – Through an incision or scar in the abdomen
  • Ventral – The general abdominal/ventral wall
  • Umbilical – At the belly button
  • Hiatal – This type of hernia occurs inside the abdomen, along the upper stomach/diaphragm

Not all hernias have symptoms or require treatment, but they also won’t disappear or heal without surgery and most get worse over time, especially in older people. Once a hernia is diagnosed, our surgeons recommend surgery within 6 months to a year. If a hernia causes pain and discomfort, hernia repair surgery may be indicated.

Situations that May Require Surgery

  • Long-term pain or discomfort that interferes with everyday activities
  • Pain or discomfort that intensifies over time
  • The hernia is large and/or growing rapidly
  • The hernia is situated in a part of the body where it is likely to enlarge or get worse, such as the groin
  • Sharp abdominal pain and vomiting
  • The hernia is pressing against nerves, resulting in irritation and numbness

Types of Surgery

Herniorrhaphy is the oldest type of hernia surgery. The Surgeon makes an incision directly over the hernia, pushes the displaced tissue or organ back inside the body, and removes the “sac” of tissue that contained the hernia. The opening through which the hernia was protruding is then stitched shut.

Hernioplasty is a procedure involving the use of a sterile mesh made of plastic or animal tissue. Instead of stitching the muscle opening shut after removing the hernia, the surgeon covers it with a patch of the mesh and stitches the patch into the surrounding tissues. The mesh stays in the body and provides support for the weak or damaged tissues around the hernia as they heal and regrow.

Minimally Invasive & Robotic Procedures

Hernia surgeries are increasingly performed using minimally invasive techniques, either laparoscopically or robotically. The smaller incisions used in these techniques are less painful than the larger incisions used with traditional open surgery. In fact, 80 to 90 percent of our patients don’t use narcotics during recovery. What’s more, we treat the area with a long-lasting local anesthetic that controls local pain for 72 hours.

The length of the procedure depends on the size of the hernia: small hernias take 60 to 75 minutes while larger ones may take as long as 2 to 3 hours. Whenever possible, we use the da Vinci SI Robot for hernia surgery. This technology can be used for all types of hernias, including hiatal hernias.

Recovery

After hernia surgery, your incision site or wound will probably appear noticeably swollen, red, and be painful to the touch. Over the counter pain or anti-inflammatory medications can help you feel more comfortable. It may take 1 to 2 weeks before you feel ready to go back to work. Full recovery may take 3 to 6 weeks.