A hernia occurs when an internal organ or any other body part pushes through a weak spot in the muscle or tissue that contains it, leading to an abnormal lump or bulge, typically in the abdomen, umbilicus, or groin area. Hernia most commonly occurs in the abdomen; e.g., when your abdominal wall muscles are weakened, your intestines can push through the abdominal wall, causing a bulge under the skin of your abdomen, near the groin, or your navel. Hernias can be present at birth or may develop later in life, between the ages of 40 and 70. They are classified according to their location and type.
According to Their Location
According to Their Type
The hernia can be managed conservatively when it is small and not causing any symptoms. Once the hernia increases in size and causes complications like severe pain, abdominal bloating, constipation, fever, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux (due to obstruction or strangulation of the hernia), surgical intervention is needed.
A hernia can be managed conservatively when it is small in size and causes no symptoms or only mild symptoms like pain, nausea, and vomiting. The non-surgical treatment includes lifestyle changes such as losing weight, exercising daily, following a nutritious diet, using hernia belts and trusses, reducing stress, and using ice therapy for pain relief.
Hernias do not go away on their own and may require surgical removal to avoid complications. Rapidly growing hernias can impinge (press) against the surrounding structures where they develop, causing several complications. Depending on the type, size, and complication (if present) of the hernia, your surgeon will suggest the method that would be ideal for you.
Open mesh surgery and laparoscopic surgery are the two main surgical approaches for hernia repair. Open surgery has become an outdated surgical approach for most types of hernia (except for umbilical and femoral hernias) owing to the larger incision (cut) involved, more prominent scarring, and prolonged recovery time.
Currently, laparoscopic surgery is the best choice for surgically treating most types of hernias. It is minimally invasive (involves less bleeding and trauma) with a high success rate and minimal postoperative complications. Laparoscopic hernia surgery is done under general anesthesia with 3–4 small incisions, and a laparoscope is used to visualize the parts inside the body. A laparoscope is a thin, telescope-like instrument with an attached video camera and a light at its end, inserted through a tiny incision at the belly button (umbilicus).
Preparation is essential before laparoscopic hernia surgery for a smooth recovery. A few days before the surgery:
Laparoscopic surgery is an outpatient procedure with no hospitalization required. However, you may be observed for 1 to 2 days after complex hernia surgery. The time taken for uncomplicated hernias is 30 to 90 minutes and 2 to 5 hours for complex hernias.
After the procedure, you will spend 1-2 hours in the recovery room, where your vitals (body temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure) will be monitored until they are stable. Before you go home, your doctor will give you the necessary instructions to follow during recovery and prescribe medications such as painkillers and antibiotics (medications to prevent bacterial infections).
The recovery period depends on the type of procedure. Most people return to normal activities 2 to 3 weeks after the surgery. You may experience pain for a few days after the hernia surgery. To speed up post-surgery recovery, follow these dos and don’ts at home:
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Complications with hernia surgery are rare. Some complications that can be present include:
No, medications are ineffective in treating hernias. A hernia, once developed, has to be removed surgically.
Usually, it is not common for a hernia to recur after surgery, but in some cases, it may recur some years later. If you notice a recurrence after your surgery, consult your surgeon immediately.
Laparoscopic Hernia surgeries are safe, and side effects are rare. Compared to traditional surgeries, they are highly recommended due to the smaller incisions and faster recovery time.
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