A hernia occurs when an organ or internal tissue breaks through a hole in the muscles. Hernia repair surgery or herniorrhaphy involves returning the displaced tissues to their proper position.
Hernioplasty is a type of hernia repair surgery where a mesh patch is sewn over the weakened region of tissue.
Facts on hernia repair:
- Small hernias may not cause any symptoms
- In general, hernia surgeries are classified as herniorrhaphy or hernioplasty.
- Hernia repairs are day surgeries, so people go home a few hours afterward.
- Hernia surgeries are considered fairly safe and effective.
It often takes 1 to 2 years before hernias begin to cause noticeable, irritating, or painful symptoms. Some people may only notice hernia symptoms when doing activities, such as strenuous exercise, for example.
Hernia symptoms and factors that indicate surgery may be necessary include:
- long-term hernia pain or discomfort
- pain or discomfort that interferes with everyday activities
- pain or discomfort intensifying or worsening over time
- large hernias
- fast-growing hernias
- hernias in places where they might worsening or enlarging, such as the groin
- sharp abdominal pain and vomiting
- hernias that put pressure on nerves to cause irritation and numbness
In some cases, hernias never end up causing enough symptoms to warrant medical intervention. But hernias cannot resolve or heal without surgery, so when negative symptoms occur surgery is necessary.
Types of hernia:
The type of repair may depend on the nature of the hernia. Three types of hernias are most common, including:
- Reducible hernia: When the hernia can be pushed back into the opening it came through.
- Irreducible or incarcerated hernia: When the organ or abdominal tissues have filled the hernia sac, and it cannot be pushed back through the hole it came through.
- Strangulated hernia: When part of an organ or tissue becomes stuck inside the hernia with its blood supply often cut off.
Both hernia surgery techniques can either be done through a large incision or laparoscopically, which involves accessing the misplaced tissues through three or four small cuts made adjacent to the hernia.
Laparoscopic surgeries are done with a lighted fiber-optic cable called a laparoscope that acts like a video camera. By inserting the laparoscope through the small cuts, the surgeons can see what they are doing inside someone’s body.
When to see a doctor:
- the incision remains inflamed and painful for more than a few days after surgery, especially if symptoms become worse or more intense
- new symptoms develop that were not present in the immediate hours after surgery
- hernia bulge changes color, especially a dark shade of red or purple
- paleness or change in the skin tint
- odor or discharge from the incision, either blood, puss, or clear fluid
- the incision wound will not heal
- hard, swollen testicles
- inflammation and pain that does not respond to pain medications or ice
- stomach cramps
- no bowel movement for 3 or more days
- sharp abdominal pain and vomiting
- More serious complications that require immediate medical attention, most commonly infection, can occur in the days and weeks after surgery.
Certain factors can complicate hernia repair surgeries and increase the risk of negative side effects or the surgery failing.
Common risk factors for hernias and undergoing hernia repair include:
- family history
- high blood pressure
- connective tissue disorders
Before a person is discharged from the hospital, their surgeon will explain what activities should be avoided and for how long.
It usually takes 3 to 6 weeks for a full recovery after hernia surgeries. Usually, it will take 1 to 2 weeks before a person can go back to everyday activities and work.