Have you noticed a bulge or lump recently in any part of your body? Wondering what it could be? Well, there could be several reasons for a bulge or lump but the most common cause could be a hernia. A hernia is a condition that usually occurs due to the bulging or protrusion of any organ or tissue through a damaged or weakened muscle wall. Excess pressure within the organ or tissues due to over straining of the related muscles could be the most common cause of hernias. These swellings typically appear near your abdomen, but may also be seen in other areas like your groins, umbilicus (belly button), and lower chest. Usually, hernias are small and go unnoticed since they do not cause any obvious symptoms, but they can enlarge in size and cause pain and other related symptoms. Larger hernias need to be treated surgically through open, laparoscopic or robotic approach, else if left untreated, they cause several complications.
Recovery usually takes approximately 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the severity of the condition and the type of surgery involved. Post-operative care is a crucial aspect of recovery that aids in faster healing and recovery.
This article explores hernia surgery and what you need to do or avoid post-surgery to promote faster healing and quick recovery.
What is Hernia Surgery?
Hernia surgery is a procedure involving the repair of the hernia by means of surgical intervention. Smaller sized hernias usually do not require surgical treatment and can be easily managed through non-surgical methods that involve medication and lifestyle changes (weight loss, quitting smoking, nutritious diet, regular exercises and home remedies).
Surgery is necessary for enlarged hernias pressing against the surrounding structures causing varying symptoms like severe abdominal or pelvic pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and constipation. If left untreated, hernias may lead to life-threatening complications like obstruction (a part of the hernia is blocked or trapped within the tissue or muscle wall) and strangulation (a condition in which the trapped part of hernia is deprived of the blood supply causing necrosis). This causes severe symptoms like sharp and shooting pain, fever, constipation, heartburn, acid reflux, chest pain and shortness of breath. This negatively impacts the overall quality of your life.
The main aim of the surgery is to push the organ or tissue back to its original position and placing an artificial (prosthetic) mesh over it to hold it in position and prevent recurrence. Surgery can be through the traditional open method involving a large incision (cut) or laparoscopic method which is a minimally invasive procedure (involves small incisions) using a laparoscope (a medical device with camera and light source) that guides the surgeon to perform the surgery.
Post surgery (irrespective of the approach) you need to follow certain instructions given by your surgeon for faster healing and recovery.
What to do After a Hernia Surgery?
Following a postoperative regimen is important for faster healing and recovery. Open hernia surgery reuires hospitalization for a day or two, and depending on your response to the medications you get a discharge. Laparoscopic surgery is an outpatient procedure mostly done under general anesthesia (numbing solution that keeps you unconscious throughout the surgical procedure) and you can go home the same day. Here is what you need to do and avoid after hernia surgery.
- Arrange someone to drive you back home since you are not allowed to drive for the next 2 to 3 weeks post surgery.
- You need to rest on the day of your surgery and for the next 24 to 48 hours since your body needs time to heal. Rest and adequate sleep boost up your immunity.
- Take your pain medications as prescribed by your surgeon.
- Consume a healthy, fiber-rich, fat-free diet to improve your digestion and aid in good bowel movements.
- You need to follow a liquid diet for the first week post surgery, a semi-solid diet for 2 to 4 weeks and then resume your normal diet after 4 weeks. This aids in good digestion and helps to prevent constipation. Consume small, frequent meals for 3 to 6 times daily for the first 3 to 4 weeks post surgery.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water everyday to hydrate yourself, since dehydration can put excess strain on your muscles.
- You need to keep your wound clean and dry to avoid the risk of infections. Change your dressing regularly and reapply the gauze after bathing.
- Try to stay active post surgery to prevent the formation of blood clots, to reduce the formation of gas and aid in good digestion. Regular walks and low-impact exercises like yoga can help improve your metabolism and stimulate your bowel movements.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothes to avoid straining of the abdominal and pelvic muscles, and avoid rubbing your incision (cut).
- Do not drive or ride for the initial 3 to 4 weeks since the urge for sudden breaks during an emergency while driving or riding can strain your muscles around the operated site.
- Avoid any strenuous exercise or activity and lift heavy objects since this can be very harmful.
- Do not soak yourself in a hot water tub for a few weeks after surgery.
- Avoid swimming and other sports-related activities for at least 3 to 4 weeks.
- Avoid smoking as this may cause dehydration and excess muscle strain and also delays wound healing. Nicotine present may prevent the blood flow to the wound.
- Avoid alcohol consumption as it may increase bruising and swelling post-surgery.
- Avoid having sex for 1 to 2 weeks if you notice any post-op swelling of the penis or testicles.
- Do not miss your follow-up appointments since it helps to evaluate your wound and keep a check on any complications that may develop post surgery.
Hernia is an abnormal bulge or protrusion of any organ or tissue through a damaged or weakened muscle wall. They most commonly occur in your abdomen area; however, they can also be seen developing in other areas like your groin, umbilicus, and lower chest. When hernias enlarge in size and cause pain and discomfort (fever, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, acid reflux, chest pain and shortness of breath) they are surgically treated through the open, laparoscopic or robotic approach.
Self-care after a hernia surgery helps to hasten your healing and recovery time, which includes moderate exercise, healthy eating, and caring for your wound. Following your surgeon’s instructions about things to do and avoid is crucial for your recovery and for preventing postoperative complications. Avoiding excess strain on your muscles around the surgical site is important to prevent a recurrence.
Book an appointment with our team of expert healthcare professionals at Medfin, to help you through your surgical process for a smooth recovery.
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