Dr Medina and his assistant were first-rate. They bent over backwards to help me understand my diagnoses.
I’ve been diagnosed with a hernia. What is that?
A hernia is a tear or hole in the strength layers of the abdominal wall. The contents of your abdomen can then protrude through the defect resulting in a bulge beneath the skin.
Hernias can occur in men and women of all ages and can take place at multiple sites in the abdominal wall. They can be the result of weakness over time or can occur as a result of strain from lifting, obesity and even coughing. They also are pretty common, with about one million hernia repairs performed annually in the United States.
Hernias can be small and simple to repair or they can be extremely large and require extensive surgery. The only definitive treatment for a hernia is surgical repair.
What are the symptoms of a hernia?
A hernia often will result as a bulge beneath the skin and can cause either mild discomfort or severe pain, depending on the size and location of the injury. Complicated hernias that contain bowel or other organs can cause nausea, vomiting and severe pain. These symptoms often worsen with activity and can be life-threatening if untreated.
Are there different types of hernias?
Yes, there are many different types of hernias. The most common areas for hernias to occur are in the groin, at the belly button and at the site of previous abdominal surgeries. The Colorado Hernia Center expertly treats all types of hernias. Some of the more common are:
- Inguinal hernias, which occur at the groin and often cause a visible bulge. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, which can worsen with activity. Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia and generally can be repaired with outpatient surgery.
- Umbilical hernias, which occur at the belly button. These hernias are comparatively small but still large enough to result in bulging at the belly button. Umbilical hernias are repaired with outpatient surgery.
- Femoral hernias, which occur in the groin. Femoral hernias are more common with women. They often result in a bulge in the crease of the groin. Femoral hernias are repaired with outpatient surgery.
- Ventral/Incisional hernias, which can occur anywhere in the abdomen, usually at the site of a previous surgical scar. These hernias can range from small to extremely large. Symptoms will vary depending on the size of the tear and the abdominal contents. Incisional hernias can be repaired using traditional or minimally invasive techniques. Depending on the size, these hernias can be quite complicated to fix and might require a short stay in the hospital.
How are hernia repaired?
The only way to repair a hernia is with surgery. Surgery typically involves repairing the defect in the abdominal wall and reinforcing it with a piece of surgical mesh. Surgery can be done in an open or minimally invasive fashion. Robotic assisted surgery can result in a quicker recovery time. Your doctor will discuss all the various options and make a recommendation as to what type of surgery is best for you.
Is mesh safe?
Mesh is a synthetic material used for reinforcement of hernia repairs. The use of mesh has been repeatedly shows to decrease reoccurrence. Mesh is, however, a foreign body. And as such, is not without potential complications. Fortunately, these complications are rare.