When abdominal pain or swelling arise, concerns about having a ventral hernia are among the last to cross the mind. Ventral hernias can develop at any age, although they are more common in middle and older-aged patients. Not everyone experiences abdominal pain or swelling. Hernia symptoms can also become more severe with movement.
Ventral Hernia Types
Ventral hernias develop in the weak or damaged areas of the upper abdominal muscular wall. The tissues and organs in the abdominal cavity push against the weak areas until they fall through, creating a bugle. Without treatment, ventral hernias can become larger and more complex. In some cases, multiple hernias can develop in the same area.
Although hernias can develop almost anywhere in the body, ventral hernias occur above the belly button or waistline. Below are the different types of ventral hernias based:
Umbilical hernias develop near the umbilicus or belly button. This portion of the abdominal wall is naturally weaker. Umbilical ventral hernias are often diagnosed in babies and children, yet adults normally develop them too. This type of hernia often goes away on its own in children and infants; only a small portion of minors need surgery.
But in adults, surgery is necessary to repair the weak vessels in the belly button area and reinforce the muscular wall. Paraumbilical hernias is a term for hernias in the belly button area that grow large enough to endanger the health and function of the bowels. Without treatment, umbilical hernias can become larger, more painful, and troublesome to manage and fix.
Incisional ventral hernias develop in old surgical incisions or sites because the connective tissues in these places are too thin or weak to properly support the contents of the abdominal cavity. Incisional ventral hernias are commonly diagnosed in patients with a history of abdominal or failed hernia repair surgery.
Epigastric hernias are more prevalent in men. Epigastric hernias develop when the upper portion of the abdominal wall is too weak to keep fatty tissue from bulging through. Epigastric ventral hernias normally appear near the midline between the breastbone and belly button.
Many people with ventral hernias in the epigastric region often experience severe pain and discomfort, although their bulges are small in size. The risk of bowel strangulation and herniation is lower with epigastric hernias.
Parastomal hernias are specific to colostomy, ileostomy, and stoma locations.
Spigelian hernias are those that develop in the lower regions of the abdomen, around and below the belly button. Spigelian hernias can be difficult to diagnose because the dislocated abdominal contents and tissues can bulge between the abdominal muscular wall instead of completely through it. Spigelian hernias usually require diagnostic testing with ultrasounds and exploratory laparoscopic surgery for confirmation.
Strangulated ventral hernias develop when the protruding tissues become stuck outside of the abdominal wall. Normally, hernias slide in and out of place, which is why some patients have intermittent symptoms.
Strangulated hernias are dangerous because the trapped tissues no longer receive blood and are in danger of dying. This can lead to serious complications without immediate medical care. Strangulated ventral hernias can’t be massaged or physically manipulated back into place. The only safe and effective treatment for strangulated ventral hernias is surgery.
What Causes Ventral Hernias?
Anyone can develop a ventral hernia due to various reasons. The most common causes of ventral hernias include the following:
Heavy lifting and poor body mechanics. It’s important to avoid lifting items that are too heavy and to use the right movements. Hernias primarily affect the abdominal muscles. Lifting heavy items and using the wrong movements strains the muscles and can lead to injury, damage, and ventral hernias.
Rapid changes in weight place. Excess weight and fluctuations create additional pressure and strain on the abdomen. Ventral hernias due to excess weight are common in those struggling with obesity and during pregnancy. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight with a good diet and exercise to lower the risk of ventral hernias.
Frequent or chronic coughing and sneezing. Involuntary movements can overburden the abdominal muscles, increasing the risk of hernias. Those who have allergies and medical ailments that cause excessive sneezing and coughing should use a pillow to support their abdominal muscles and reduce the risk of hernias.
Other causes of ventral hernias include health and lifestyle factors that weaken or damage the abdominal wall, genetics, family history, trauma, vomiting, growing older, and other medical conditions.
Hernias are preventable in many cases. But not always. Regardless of their cause, treatment is necessary to repair the damage and alleviate symptoms.
Ventral Hernia Treatment
Ventral hernias often don’t respond to self-care measures and almost always require surgery. Surgery is necessary to fix the gap and restore the bulging tissues to their origin. Surgery also reinforces or strengthens the area to prevent hernias from returning.
Dr. Abtin Khosravi, MD, FACS, offers the following types of ventral hernia treatments at the Orange County Robotic General Surgery clinic.
Traditional ventral hernia repair – Open hernia repair is often recommended for patients with large, multiple or complicated hernias. Because open hernia repair involves anesthesia and bigger incisions, it is an invasive surgical procedure. It is an inpatient surgery that requires a short hospital stay for patients. Open ventral hernia repair surgery patients have longer recovery times and more complication risks than those who undergo minimally invasive hernia repair surgery.
Laparoscopic ventral hernia repair – Dr. Khosravi performs laparoscopic hernia surgery manually and with an advanced surgical robotics system. When making the repairs by hand, Dr. Khosravi utilizes a laparoscope, or a thin tube with a camera on the end and laparoscopic techniques. He also uses these same practices when making the repairs robotically with the addition of an advanced surgical robotics system.
Both laparoscopic and robot-assist hernia repair surgeries are minimally invasive. Smaller incisions are used to repair the hernia site. As a result, patients spend less time in the operating room, and have less trauma, better results, and require less time to heal and recover.
Make an Appointment Today for Ventral Hernia Care
If you suspect your symptoms are due to a hernia, you should make an appointment to see a hernia specialist as soon as possible. Dr. Abtin Khosravi, MD., FACS, is a renowned hernia surgeon in Los Angeles specializing in traditional and minimally invasive procedures with both robotic and laparoscopic techniques.
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.