Any abnormal protrusion or bulging of the organ or tissue through weakened muscle walls of the abdominal cavity or other parts of your body is known as a hernia. These are usually small lumps of tissues that break through their natural barrier. Most often, hernias do not cause any pain or discomfort and go unnoticed, and such hernias do not require any treatment or can be managed through non-surgical methods. Surgery is indicated when the hernias grow rapidly in size, causing severe symptoms and complications that affect your quality of life. Read on to know more about hernia surgery and the types of surgical procedures with their benefits and recovery time.
What is Hernia Surgery?
Rapidly growing hernias can impinge (press) against the surrounding structures where they develop, causing several complications. The hernias enlarge in size, causing:
- When a portion of the hernia gets trapped, causing symptoms like abdominal pain, a lump around the affected area, nausea, and vomiting.
- When the trapped portion is deprived of the blood supply, it gets strangulated, showing signs of gangrene (necrosis), which cause symptoms like severe pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, constipation, heartburn, chest pain, and acid reflux.
These symptoms are so severe that they have a negative impact on your quality of life which needs immediate medical attention. Hernia surgery is of two types:
Herniorrhaphy (tissue repair)
- This is the oldest type of hernia surgery that involves a large incision made directly over the hernia, for easy access and insertion of surgical instruments.
- The protruded tissue or organ is replaced to its original position while the hernia sac is removed.
- The muscle wall or the opening through which the hernia protruded is sutured.
Hernioplasty (mesh repair)
- In this procedure after the replacement of the protruded tissue or organ, a mesh is placed over it and then sutured.
- The mesh used is made up of flexible plastics (polypropylene) or animal tissue.
- Small cuts are made around the hole in the shape of the mesh, which is placed attached to the healthy tissues.
- Damaged tissues around the hernia depend on the mesh as a supportive structure as they regrow.
How is Hernia Surgery Performed?
It usually takes around 1 to 2 years for the hernia to show any noticeable or painful symptoms, which are often seen during strenuous and vigorous activities. Hernias do not resolve or heal without surgery, so when severe symptoms occur surgery is necessary. The surgery involves the following steps:
- Your general physician (GP) will conduct a physical examination to evaluate your hernia. The lump is checked for any tenderness, hardness, and mobility to rule out tumors.
- You will be asked to stand and cough to check the lump (since it becomes prominent on standing, coughing or sneezing).
- If your GP cannot reach to a conclusive diagnosis additional imaging tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis:
- Ultrasound Scan of your abdomen and pelvis
- CT (Computed Tomography) scan
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
- Your GP will record your detailed medical history to rule out medical conditions like diabetes (increased blood sugar levels), hypertension (high blood pressure), and other blood disorders.
- Your social history for habits like smoking or alcohol is recorded
- You need to inform your GP about the regular medications you take and the presence of any allergy to any drug.
- You are advised to stop consuming alcohol for at least 3 to 4 weeks before your surgery.
- You need to fast for 6 to 8 hours prior to the surgery and take a laxative to help empty your bowel.
- Wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothes on the day of your surgery.
- Your surgeon may either use local or general anesthesia.
- The time taken for the surgery usually depends on the type of surgical method. Robotic and laparoscopic surgeries take much longer than traditional open surgery.
- You are made to lie down on the operating table, exposing only the part that needs to be operated.
- The affected area is cleansed with an antiseptic solution to remove any debris or contaminants that could lead to an infection.
Open Hernia Surgery
- This procedure involves a large incision or cut that exposes the herniated organ.
- The hernia is pushed effectively, a mesh is placed over it, and the surgical site sutured.
- This technique involves general anesthesia, where a harmless gas is inserted into the abdomen to improve access to the surgical site.
- Multiple, tiny keyhole-sized incisions are made through which a laparoscope is inserted.
- A laparoscope is a medical device that consists of a tiny camera and a light source.
- The inside of the surgical site around the hernia is better viewed through this device and projected on a large screen.
- Surgical instruments are inserted through other small cuts to push the hernia back to its original position and a mesh is placed over it, and sutured.
- The advantages of this procedure includes less scarring due to small incisions, faster healing and recovery and lesser post-operative complications.
- This requires less hospital stay as well.
Robotic Hernia Surgery
- This is the latest and most advanced surgical approach, similar to the laparoscopic method.
- This technique involves advanced robotic technology, wherein the surgeon is seated at the console and performs the surgery through high definition (3D) imaging.
- The advantages of this procedure are as follows:
- Good precision achieved
- Less pain and trauma
- Faster healing and recovery
- Minimal post-op complications.
- You are likely to experience mild pain and discomfort once your anesthesia wears off.
- Arrange for someone to drive you back home.
- It is normal to experience bruising, swelling and abdominal bloating.
- You will be given pain medications to manage pain and discomfort.
- You will be given only clear liquids for the next 24 to 36 hours post-surgery, and slowly advance your diet to include fiber rich foods to prevent constipation.
- Keep your surgical bandage clean and dry and do not take a shower for at least 3 to 5 days. Avoid hot tub baths, bandage soaking, or swimming until advised by your surgeon.
- You need to move around post-surgery since being inactive can increase your risk of blood clots. Walking is the best exercise to improve blood circulation.
- Avoid strenuous exercises, gymming, and lifting heavy objects for at least 4 to 6 weeks.
- Call your surgeon if you experience:
- High-grade fever (>than 101 degrees)
- Excessive swelling and redness
- Pus draining from the wound
- Recovery usually takes around 4 to 6 weeks depending on the type of surgical method.
Hernias do not heal or go away on their own, and surgical intervention is the best treatment approach to prevent any further damage or risk of recurrence. Advanced and minimally invasive techniques provide good and accurate results with faster recovery and minimal post-op complications.
Consult our team of highly qualified healthcare specialists at Medfin for further queries about the surgical approach that best suits your situation.
The content on this site is the copyright of Medfin and is intended for informational and educational purposes only. This should not be considered as a substitute for medical and surgical expertise. Results from any treatments or surgeries are subjective to an individual patient and the type of procedure/ surgery performed. Please seek professional help regarding any medical concerns. Medfin will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.