When you have a hernia, it might be in one of several locations, including the groin, abdominal area, or thigh. A hernia is caused by one of your organs or fatty tissue pushing its way through the muscle or connective tissue it’s encased within.
The main types of hernias include inguinal, incisional, femoral, umbilical, and hiatal. You may also hear an incisional hernia referred to as a ventral repair, and it’s a hernia located at the incision site of previous surgery.
To repair a hernia, you’re going to need surgery. This guide can help you better understand exactly what hernia surgery is and the need for it.
Do You Need Hernia Surgery?
If you have a hernia, it won’t resolve on its own, and the only way to repair it is through surgery. There are some types of hernias that don’t require immediate surgery. In some cases, you can live with a hernia for months or even years.
However, when you have a femoral hernia, it requires immediate surgery to correct. This type of hernia appears in the groin or your thigh and involves a section of your bowels bulging out.
A femoral hernia that remains untreated can lead to part of your bowels becoming blocked or even strangled, which make kill that section of the bowel. Fortunately, this type of hernia isn’t as common as some others.
Types of Hernia Surgery
During hernia surgery, the hernia sac is either removed or placed back into the appropriate place. Once that’s completed, the surgeon staples mesh over the weakened spot in the muscle or connective tissue that allowed for the hernia in the first place.
There are two types of surgery most commonly used for hernia repair. The types are traditional “open” surgery and laparoscopic surgery. We’ll look at each one a little more closely:
Laparoscopic Surgery for Hernia Repair
This type of hernia repair surgery is the least invasive and offers a faster recovery time. However, it isn’t for every patient and hernia type. After the patient is put under general anesthesia, the surgeon makes three small cuts of around half an inch each.
A camera called a laparoscope is inserted into one of the holes, so the surgeon can see the hernia sac. Using the other two openings, the surgeon takes care of the hernia sac and places the mesh in place.
Once the openings are sutured, you’ll move to recovery. You might be treated as an inpatient or an outpatient with laparoscopic surgery. It depends on the type of hernia repair and any complications during surgery.
Laparoscopic surgery isn’t for everyone. There are times when the surgeon begins laparoscopic surgery and switches to a traditional “open” surgery during the procedure. Here are a few things a surgeon considers in the decision:
- Abnormal bleeding during the surgery.
- The surgeon isn’t able to see the entire scope of the hernia with the laparoscope.
- Excessive scar tissue that makes the surgery more complicated.
Your doctor will discuss your options with you, so you can partner together for the best possible results. If you opt for laparoscopic surgery, and your doctor switches to a traditional one, rest assured that the switch was unavoidable.
Traditional “Open” Surgery for Hernia Repair
This type of hernia repair is the more invasive of the two available surgery types. It can also require a longer recovery time. However, there are certain hernias that need this type of surgery.
With a traditional “open” surgery for hernia repair, the surgeon starts by making a three to four-inch incision close to the location of the hernia. The skin, fat, muscle, and other obstructions are moved until the surgeon can see the hernia.
After removing the hernia sac or pushing the organ back into place, the surgeon attaches mesh to the area of weakness and closes the patient with sutures. Obviously, this type of surgery takes longer to recover from due to the size of the incision.
If you have a hiatal hernia, it will almost always be done with traditional open surgery because of the location of the hernia.
After Your Hernia Surgery
Your hernia surgery will either be done as an inpatient or outpatient surgery. Most laparoscopic surgeries are done as outpatient surgery, and you can expect to go home a few hours after surgery.
Remember that both types of hernia surgery are done under anesthesia. This means that you might feel groggy and disorientated immediately after your surgery and may need to rest before going home.
The doctor will want to ensure that you’re mobile and any pain that you’re feeling is managed before you leave. In the case of a hernia located in the groin area, you might need to urinate before you can leave.
If you had traditional “open” surgery for hernia repair, you’ll probably be treated as an inpatient and require a minimum overnight stay in the hospital. If you’ve had a hiatal hernia, you can expect to stay in the hospital a minimum of three days and as many as 10.
Your surgeon wants to limit your chances of a complication when it comes to time spent in the hospital after hernia repair surgery. The two most common complications following hernia repair surgery are infections and excessive bleeding.
If you experience any symptoms following surgery, it’s always a good idea to advise your doctor. As part of your release paperwork, your doctor will provide you with things to monitor to ensure your overall health.
When it comes to recovery time, it can range from a couple of days until you can return to work to 12 weeks for a full recovery. It depends on the type and size of the hernia and the surgery performed to repair it.
Hernia Surgery Summary
If you have a hernia, you’ll probably need surgery at some point. While some hernias are okay to delay surgery, you’re always faced with the potential for them to grow larger or more painful. At Orange County Robotic General Surgery, we’re ready to partner with you to complete your hernia repair surgery. Contact us today with any questions or to schedule an appointment.