What is a Hernia?
A hernia is a result of an internal organ or tissue protruding through the connective tissue or muscle that holds it in place. Hernias are often caused by weakened muscles. Some people are born with weakened muscles, but this can also be caused by strains, excessive body weight, heavy lifting, giving birth, or even a persistent cough.1
Types of Hernias
The most common types of hernia are:
- Inguinal Hernia: This is by far the most common type of hernia, and it occurs when part of the intestine or fatty tissue protrudes into the groin.
- Femoral Hernia: A femoral hernia happens when the intestine crosses into the canal that carries the femoral artery into the thigh.
- Ventral Hernia: A ventral hernia occurs at the front of the abdominal wall. Umbilical hernias are a type of ventral hernia.
- Incisional Hernia: This type of hernia occurs at the site of a surgical incision, and may occur just after a surgery or even years later.
- Hiatal Hernia: A hiatal hernia forms where the esophagus exits the diaphragm.
Hernia symptoms differ slightly according to the location of the hernia. In general, symptoms include:
- A visible or palpable bulge
- Pain or aching at the bulge
- Increase in the size of the bulge
- Pain while lifting or otherwise straining the herniated area
- A sensation of fullness
- Signs of an obstructed bowel
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest pain2
The only way to treat a hernia is with surgery. During hernia surgery, the contents of the hernia are moved back into the proper position, then held in place with sutures or synthetic medical mesh. For some patients, open hernia surgery is the best option. Other patients, however, may be candidates for robotic/laparoscopic hernia repair, where a thin instrument called a laparoscope is inserted into the treatment area via a series of small incisions. These instruments are connected to a camera, which gives the surgeon a thorough view of the surgical field without the need for longer incisions.
Preparing for Hernia Surgery
Once your hernia repair surgery has been scheduled, we will give you instructions for preparing for your procedure. Some steps you’ll take include:
- Refraining from eating the night before your surgery
- Discontinuing use of certain medications
- Making arrangements with a friend or family member to drive you home after your procedure
The Hernia Surgery Procedure
Laparoscopic hernia surgery is performed under general anesthesia. During this procedure, the surgeon makes a series of very small incisions through which specialized surgical instruments are inserted. The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide, a harmless gas, so the doctor can clearly see the internal structures. The herniated tissues are put back into place, then the area is reinforced with stitches and mesh.
Recovery After Hernia Surgery
The recovery period after hernia surgery differs according to the type of hernia repaired, but most of our patients are able to return home within a few hours of their procedure. Our surgeons will prescribe pain medication to help patients stay comfortable as they recover. The majority of our patients are able to get back to their normal activities after one to two weeks, but strenuous activity should be avoided for up to six weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hernia Surgery
When should I seek treatment for a hernia?
If a hernia is causing you pain or discomfort, you should talk to your doctor. Frequently, hernias are small when they begin, but often enlarge. Treatment is generally recommended to avoid emergency surgery or other health problems.
Which type of hernia surgery is right for me?
The surgeons at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors can help determine what type of surgery is best for your specific type of hernia. The decision depends on many factors including the type of hernia, whether or not you have had previous surgeries, and if you are a candidate for general anesthetic, nerve blocks or local anesthesia. Our surgeons will determine the best surgical procedure for you, helping to avoid recurrent hernias and complications.
Contact Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors
Our surgeons perform several hundred hernia surgeries every year, ranging from routine procedures to the most complex. If you are suffering from hernia symptoms, we can help. To schedule a hernia repair consultation, please contact us.
Video of Laparoscopic Hiatal Hernia Surgery
Video of Laparoscopic Inguinal Hernia Surgery
Listen to Hernia Patient Discuss Her Surgery
1 National Library of Medicine. Hernia. Available: https://medlineplus.gov/hernia.html. Accessed December 2, 2022.
2 Cleveland Clinic. Hernia. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15757-hernia. Accessed December 2, 2022.