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Hernias are extremely common, affecting millions of Americans each year. However, only a portion of those suffering from hernias actually seek treatment. National Hernia Awareness Month aims to raise awareness about hernias and the effective treatment options that are available.
- What is a hernia?
A hernia is known as “a hole in the wall.” It occurs when there is a defect in the hole in the strength layer of your abdominal wall, which is also known as the “fascia.” A hernia commonly occurs within the torso between the chest and hips. Common sites include the groin and belly button. Sometimes, underlying fat or an internal organ can protrude out through the hole and this results in a bulge.
- What are some common symptoms of a hernia?
Common symptoms of a hernia include a bulge or pain at the site. In some instances, hernias can cause intestinal obstructions, which becomes a surgical emergency.
- What are the common types of hernias?
Common types of hernias include umbilical and inguinal. Other types include incisional and femoral hernias.
- Can a hernia go away on its own?
Most hernias will not go away on their own. Most of them will require surgical intervention. This is because a hernia is a defect in the abdominal wall and the strength layer of the abdominal cavity. There are some exceptions to the rule (e.g. during pregnancy, some women will experience an umbilical hernia). Most times, these will resolve on their own after the delivery of the child. Most other hernias will require surgical intervention.
- What kind of doctor treats hernias?
Different types of surgeons that repair hernias include general surgeons, some that are specialized in minimally invasive or robotic techniques, or plastic surgeons. Sometimes the plastic surgeon and the general surgeon will repair the hernia together.
- What can happen if a hernia is left untreated?
If hernias are left untreated, they can sometimes become larger or symptomatic where they are painful, or parts of your small intestine or colon can fall into the hernia and make bowl movements or physical activity difficult. If the contents that are in the hernia start to get squeezed and lose their blood supply, it becomes an emergency where we must go to the operating room immediately to repair it, sometimes having to resect part of your intestine or colon. So, if you have a hernia that requires repair, you should definitely see your doctor sooner rather than later, so we don’t run into that emergency situation.
- How is a hernia treated?
Hernias are treated with surgical repair, as long as you are able to undergo a surgical procedure. Hernias are usually closed with sutures in some fashion and reinforced with a mesh. The mesh is usually made of a polypropylene or sometimes an absorbable type of material, which are secured in place with either sutures or clips that are also sometimes absorbable. The hernia repair is usually done in an operating room under general anesthesia, sometimes laparoscopically or robotically, or through an open procedure which may be an incision overlying the palpable hernia.
- What is recovery like?Recovery after hernia surgery is usually about one week of being out of work and somewhat sore, followed by six weeks of no heaving lifting, nothing more than 5-10 pounds. A gallon of milk is about 10 pounds, so you won’t be able to lift anything more than that for 6 weeks following surgery. If your job requires you to do heavy lifting, sometimes your employer can offer you a light duty position or we would keep you out of work for those six weeks. After your surgery we would see you in the office and make sure everything is healing well, and once you’ve met that six weeks of no heavy lifting you can slowly resume your regular physical activity including lifting and exercising.
To learn more about hernia repair click here or call our office at 844-973-0002.