Hernias – What You Need To Know

It’s important to seek medical attention right away if you think you have a hernia. Unfortunately, aside from resting and taking ibuprofen for pain, there isn’t much people can do on their own to treat a hernia. Wearing a supportive garment, such as a truss, isn’t effective in the long run because hernias will not repair themselves. The only definitive treatment is surgery. If left untreated, hernias can continue to grow, putting you at risk for potentially dangerous complications, such as lack of blood supply or strangulation of the intestines.

Methods for Hernia Repair: Surgical methods for hernia repair are often dependent on the size of the hernia. Larger hernias can be more complicated to repair, which is why it’s extremely important to make an appointment with your doctor at the first signs of symptoms. Hernias are treated either by open repair or minimally invasive surgery, which includes laparoscopy or robot-assisted surgery.

Inguinal hernias, or hernias in the groin, require a synthetic mesh to repair and cover the defect or hole. If the hernia is smaller, or in another location, a mesh covering may not be necessary. Other methods, like laparoscopy and robotic hernia repair, allow the surgeon to make smaller incisions with smaller operating tools. With minimally invasive surgery, the patient will have less scarring, less damage to surrounding tissues and often less pain and a shorter recovery. In both the open and minimally invasive procedures, the risk of complications is low – about the same for any surgical operation.

Hernia repairs are ambulatory, or outpatient procedures. This means that patients can expect to go home the same day. The risk of recurrence is slim: There’s about a five percent chance a person will develop another hernia in the same spot or elsewhere.

How long before you’re back to normal? Every surgeon has his or her own view on this. But I generally recommend patients take a week off from work and avoid lifting anything heavier than 25 pounds for at least six weeks. I typically don’t restrict cardiovascular exercise with my patients. Almost all patients return to regular activities without pain within few weeks.

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