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Hernias

HERNIA SURGERY

There are many types of hernias, and many types of surgery to repair them. Fortunately, in many cases the surgery can be done laparoscopically. This minimally invasive surgery, mastered by the hernia surgeons at WakeMed Physician Practices - General Surgery, reduces recovery time for patients, so they can get back to normal life activities much faster.

What is a hernia?

A hernia is an opening in the muscles of the abdominal wall; it results from the weakening of the wall. This allows the contents of the abdomen to protrude, or stick out, from their normal boundaries. A common analogy is to think about a balloon inside a barrel or other container with a hole in it, and to picture how the balloon will expand and press out of the hole when it is inflated. Certain activities, like lifting heavy objects, or even severe coughing can make a hernia worse.

Hernias cause pain or discomfort and localized swelling somewhere in the groin area or on the surface of the abdomen. The most common location is the groin area due to the human posture and the area's natural anatomical weakness. Because we stand and walk so much, we create stress on these weaker tissue areas because of the greater force that pushes toward the bottom of the abdomen. Over time, the stress can break down the support tissues and lead to a tear, creating a new hole, or make an existing hole larger.

What are the different types of hernias?

At different sites in the abdomen-in areas prone to this anatomical or structural weaknesss-several types of hernias can occur, including epigastric, umbilical, incisional, lumbar, internal, and Spigelian. Several different types of hernia may occur in the groin area, including indirect, direct, and femoral hernias. Umbilical hernias can occur within the navel, while another type, called a ventral hernia, occurs in the midline of the abdomen, usually above the navel, and is usually painless. Most hernias, except for the internal types, are recognizable by a lump or swelling at the site.

How are hernias repaired?

Because hernias can cause serious problems, and can kill tissues, they must be repaired. When tissues are trapped in the hernia, it's called incarceration, and can lead to damage or death of the tissue if the blood supply is cut off to the tissue.

Surgery involves attaching surgical mesh to the hernia area, to strengthen the muscle and support tissues.

What is hernia surgery?

Several different procedures can be used to fix hernias, depending on the type and location of the hernia. Many repairs are being made using laparoscopic techniques, but the open surgical approach also is used. Discussing your options with the hernia surgeons at WakeMed Physician Practices - General Surgery will help you decide the best approach for you.

What is laparoscopic hernia surgery?

If your surgery is performed laparoscopically, your hernia surgeon will make three to four small cuts and insert tiny instruments through the incisions, allowing the doctor to work inside your abdomen to make the repair without using the larger incision common to open surgical repair. This method has the advantages of less pain after surgery and a faster recovery time.

How long will it take before I am back to normal?

As with all surgeries and illnesses, this varies among patients. After laparoscopic hernia repair, you will be encouraged to resume your normal life activities as soon as you feel comfortable doing things like taking a shower, driving or walking up and down stairs. Again, depending on the extent of the hernia and repair required, some patients may be able to go back to work in just a few days, while others may need a longer time, perhaps a few weeks. In any case, you will be told to avoid heavy lifting and straining for a period of time after your surgery.

You can work out the best surgical choice for you and a solid plan for your recovery with your hernia surgeon at WakeMed Physician Practices - General Surgery at the WakeMed North Healthplex in North Raleigh, NC. If you rely on their expertise and proficiency, you'll be back on the path to health in no time!