GVS Guide to Everything you Need to Know About Hernia Surgery
Hernias can occur to anyone, at any age, at any time. While some hernias are simply a nuisance, others can be painful and even prevent you from participating in the activities you enjoy. At General and Vascular Surgery, we have an entire team of expert, board-certified surgeons specializing in hernia surgery.
GVS surgeons perform over 4,000 hernia surgeries a year, setting the standard of quality as leaders in their field. And, they have received the highest rating of Premium Provider by United HealthCare for both quality care and overall cost.
From Surgical Directors to teaching other surgeons, GVS surgeons are always seeking to improve outcomes and patient satisfaction. Their ultimate commitment is to your health and comfort.
Most Common Types of Hernias
There are several types of hernias, although the following list represents the more common varieties.
An inguinal hernia is the most common type of hernia, with upwards of 600,000 repairs performed every year in the U.S. Also referred to as a groin hernia, the inguinal hernia occurs as a result of a portion of the soft tissue (i.e. intestine) pushing through a weak space in the abdominal muscles.
Those with an inguinal hernia may experience a:
- Noticeable bulge near the pubic bone
- Burning or aching sensation associated with the bulge
- Pain and/or discomfort, especially when attempting to lift something or bend over
- Weakness, pressure, or dragging sensation in the lower abdomen/groin
- Hiatal Hernia
The hiatal hernia is the result of the upper portion of the stomach protruding through the diaphragm.
Those who have a small hiatal hernia may not experience any symptoms. Individuals with a more pronounced hiatal hernia may have:
- Heartburn and/or acid reflux
- Problems swallowing and breathing
- Vomiting blood
- Passing black stools
- Umbilical Hernia
Although more common in infants, umbilical hernias occur when part of the intestine pokes through the opening of the abdominal muscles (in the space the umbilical cord was placed in utero).
Those who exhibit symptoms of an umbilical hernia may experience:
- Bulge near the belly-button (usually more visible when an infant cries or coughs)
- Discomfort (more so for adults)
- Incisional Hernia
Incisional hernias account for an estimated 15% to 20% of abdominal hernias and describe a protrusion of tissue resulting from a former surgical scar.
An incisional hernia may produce symptoms that include:
- A bulge at the scar/incision site, especially visible when a person is standing upright.
- Pain and/or discomfort
- Femoral Hernia
As a less common type of hernia, a femoral hernia occurs as the result of a congenital weakness associated with the canal housing the femoral vein, artery, and nerve.
Symptoms of a femoral hernia can include:
- A bulge in the thigh or groin
- Pain and discomfort
What Causes a Hernia?
Causes and risk factors for developing a hernia vary slightly depending on the type of hernia. Inguinal and femoral hernias are the result of weakened muscles. Potential causes are often due to increased pressure to the abdomen. Straining while lifting a heavy object, during a bowel movement, or even chronic coughing and sneezing can potentially lead to these types of hernias.
Umbilical hernias can occur from straining weakened muscles, but may also be the result of being overweight. Hiatal hernias are usually due to age-related changes to the diaphragm, being born with an abnormally large hiatus, or as the result of experiencing trauma or injury in the upper abdomen.
Statistically, males are much more likely to develop a hernia as are people of caucasian descent and those with a family history of hernias.
Time to Consult with a Hernia Surgeon
If you suspect that you have any type of hernia, it’s wise to consult with a board-certified surgeon, skilled and practiced with performing hernia surgeries. Although not all hernias require surgical intervention, those that often do — inguinal hernias, for example — can cause serious complications when left untreated.
Fever, nausea, sudden and intense pain, redding or color changes of a hernia bulge, and the inability to pass gas or have a bowel movement may indicate a serious problem and require immediate attention.
Types of Hernia Surgery
There are several surgical techniques to repair a hernia, with the most common including:
- Open Hernia Repair
When performing an open hernia repair surgery, your surgeon pushes the protruding bulge of tissue back into the abdomen through a large incision. Surgical mesh may be used to help reinforce the abdominal wall and protect you from the reoccurrence of a future hernia.
- Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery
Laparoscopic surgery to address a hernia is a minimally invasive procedure. Your surgeon performs the repair utilizing a tiny camera into small incisions made in your abdomen. If needed, a surgical mesh may be implemented to help prevent future hernias from developing.
During your consultation, your surgeon will advise you on the best surgical approach for your individual needs. During your visit, we encourage you to ask questions and share your concerns. It’s our goal to help you feel as comfortable and at ease as possible.
It’s Time — Your Time!
Don’t delay treatment if you suspect the presence of a hernia. Addressing a hernia promptly can help encourage a safe and effective treatment. Most people who follow post-surgery guidelines fully recover from a hernia and are able to return to the activities they enjoy.
Call us at 574-236-1888 to set-up an appointment or if you have any questions.