A hernia occurs when an organ, fatty tissue or intestine breaks through a weak area in the abdominal wall. Hernias can happen in the inner or outer groin, upper thigh, and stomach or through an incision or scar in the stomach.
Hernias are often caused by a combination of weak muscle or connective tissue and excess straining, for example, coughing, lifting something heavy or straining to go to the bathroom because you’re constipated.
While some hernias do not cause any complications, a large hernia may cause pain and symptoms that require treatment. At MultiCare, our general surgeons are experts at surgically repairing all types of hernias.
Surgery is often the only successful way to repair a hernia. There are two main types of surgery:
Either of these surgeries can be performed with or without a surgical mesh. Surgical mesh is a device that’s placed to help support weakened tissue. Hernias can sometimes return even after repair, and a surgical mesh can be used to prevent this. It can also help reduce your surgery time and minimize recovery time post-surgery.
The type of surgery your provider recommends will depend on the hernia’s size, your age and your personal health
Not all hernias require surgery, especially those that aren’t causing problems. Your primary care provider can examine yours and let you know if you should visit with a general surgeon.
However, you might need emergency surgery if a hernia causes pain, swelling and vomiting and keeps you from being able to use the bathroom. This is often a sign that blood supply to your intestines has been cut off, which is called strangulation. Call your provider right away if you suspect strangulation is causing your pain.
Before surgery, you’ll be given either local anesthesia and a sedative or general anesthesia to help you relax and not feel pain during the procedure. A surgeon will use special tools to repair the hernia and insert the fine surgical mesh to strengthen your stomach wall.
Once you wake up, you may feel some initial mild pain. Your physician will give you medications to relieve any discomfort. The pain typically stops within two weeks after surgery.
Most people find they can easily return to daily activities within three to five days after a hernia repair. Everyone’s recovery process is different — speak with your physician about when to safely return to work and physical activity.