Inguinal hernias are often difficult to live with and are a source of significant pain and discomfort for many. Every year, surgeons perform over 800,000 inguinal hernia operations. Although surgery is often required at some point to alleviate hernia pain, swelling, and discomfort, today’s patients are not limited to invasive, traditional procedures. There are minimally invasive options, such as laparoscopy and robotic-assisted surgeries, for patients to consider.
Below are some common questions patients should ask about inguinal hernia surgery.
1. What Types of Inguinal Hernia Surgery Are Available?
Inguinal hernia repair is a surgical procedure that corrects groin and lower abdomen area protrusions. Inguinal hernia surgery can be done laparoscopically with robotic-assisted surgical systems and conventional techniques. Though the results of each type of hernia repair surgery are similar, the methods, tools, and recovery differ tremendously.
Laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair involves small incisions, less tissue and organ manipulation, and shorter recoveries with fewer complication risks for patients.
Robotic-assisted inguinal hernia repair is done by a surgeon who performs the entire procedure utilizing a medically advanced robotic surgery system. Unlike alternative repair procedures, those done with an advanced robotics system lead to better outcomes for both surgeons and patients.
Conventional inguinal hernia surgery utilizes traditional surgical practices, i.e., several larger incisions, more tissue damage, manipulation, and less accuracy.
All types of inguinal hernia surgeries are highly effective at correcting herniations. Still, those involving laparoscopic practices and an advanced robotic surgery system are less invasive and deliver better and longer-lasting results. The rate of recurrence of hernia formations is much lower as well.
2. Are There Non-Surgical Treatments for Inguinal Hernias?
Not everyone who develops an inguinal hernia requires surgery. In some cases, patients experience improvements in their symptoms after altering their diets, activities, and living behaviors. Because hernias rarely go away without medical intervention, many people with hernia pain, bulges, and other symptoms eventually have surgery for immediate and long-term relief.
3. What Are the Potential Complications of Hernia Surgery?
Like all surgical procedures, there are risks and complications for inguinal hernia surgery patients to consider. Individual risks vary and depend on factors besides patient health, age, hernia type and severity, surgeon expertise, etc.
The following complications are the most common complications associated with hernia surgery.
- Sexual dysfunction
- Persistent or chronic groin pain
- Surgical wound infection
- Urinary retention or incontinence
- Mesh migration
- Wound or mesh erosion
- Recurrent hernias
- Fluid buildup near wound – seromas
- Ruptured blood vessels or pooling – hematomas
Despite the above complication risks, surgery remains the safest and most effective treatment for inguinal hernias.
4. How Can I Prepare for Inguinal Hernia Surgery?
Surgery is a stressful event for both the mind and body. It’s no secret that patients who prepare for their procedures experience fewer complications, adverse outcomes, and better recoveries.
Here are some ways you can best prepare for your operation:
- Learn about the type of inguinal hernia surgery required for your condition.
- Arrange for someone to accompany you to your procedure and stay with you for the first 24 hours after discharge home.
- Inform the surgeon of your medication history and concerns. Alternative medications and therapeutics may be necessary for individuals with certain medical conditions to prevent adverse reactions and complications.
- Follow all preoperative instructions provided by the surgeon.
5. What to Expect After Inguinal Hernia Repair Surgery?
Many patients feel noticeably better once their groin protrusions are repaired. However, their bodies still require time to heal and recover completely from their procedures. Patients can minimize their risks of postoperative complications by following all post-op treatment instructions from their surgeon or care team.
The following strategies are beneficial for inguinal hernia surgery recovery as well:
- Attend all follow-up medical appointments.
- Inform the surgeon of any issues or concerns.
- Practice proper wound care.
- Follow all dietary restrictions.
- Follow all activity restrictions.
6. How Can I Prevent Recurrent Inguinal Hernias?
Even after surgery, patients must take the following precautions to ensure their hernias do not redevelop and to minimize new hernia formations.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects, especially during the first few months after surgery. Though laparoscopic and robotic-assisted inguinal hernia repair patients recover faster and have fewer activity limitations, there is an elevated risk of hernias returning.
- Use proper body mechanics to prevent stress, pressure, and additional damage to the area. Hernias form when the muscles in the abdominal and groin areas become too damaged and weak to support the organs and tissues underneath. Surgery involves the removal of damaged connective and muscular tissues and, in some cases, surgical mesh to seal and reinforce the abdominal wall, so the intestines or bowels remain in place.
7. What Can I Expect on Inguinal Hernia Surgery Day?
Inguinal hernia surgery takes 1 to 2 hours to complete for most patients. Individual surgery times vary; some may take longer if there are multiple hernias or additional medical considerations. Patients should arrive early to their surgery appointments to complete paperwork and undergo preparation by the surgical team.
Inguinal hernia repair patients should also expect to remain onsite for a few hours under medical observation while their anesthesia wears off and motor and cognitive functions return. Patients may also be required to void urine, walk and undergo additional assessments to ensure their vitals are normal before going home.
Dr. Abtin Khosravi, MD, is an inguinal hernia repair expert at the Orange County Robotic General Surgery clinic, with a professional history of over 1,000 successful robotic surgeries and hernia repair operations.
To learn which inguinal hernia surgery (open, laparoscopic, robotic-assisted, etc.) is best suited for your situation, call (714) 541-4996 to schedule an appointment.
To find out if inguinal hernia repair surgery is right for you, Contact Orange County General Robotic Surgery at (714) 706-1257 for a consultation with Dr. Abtin H. Khosravi.