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Hernia Surgery Procedure, Recovery Time & Complications

A hernia is a condition in which an organ protrudes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that keeps it in place. A hernia is a relatively common health condition, which affects 10 to 12 percent of the population in India at some given point in time. Several factors, including congenital weakness of muscles and age-related deficiencies, are the main reasons behind this common ailment. In almost all cases, a hernia accompanies great discomfort and it almost always requires surgery.

In a hernia surgery, the surgeon makes an incision and replaces the protruded lump of tissue back into the abdomen. A hernia mesh is then placed in the abdominal wall or the weak spot from the hernia protruded, to strengthen it and hold it in place.

Listed below are the most common types of hernia:

1. Inguinal Hernia- This is the most common type of hernia and typically affects aged men. In this condition, the intestine or fatty tissue pushes through a weak tissue in the groin area. It is located at the top of the inner thigh. It can be treated with Inguinal hernia surgery.

2. Incisional hernia- As the name suggests, this type of hernia occurs at the site of a previous incision in people who have had surgery at some point. In some people, these hernias occur weeks after the surgery. However, in others, they may appear months or even years after the operation. The size also varies for each individual. This type of hernia requires immediate medical intervention because it can widen and become more difficult to repair.

3. Femoral Hernias- This, like an inguinal hernia, is a type of groin hernia. It appears right below the groin crease and is more prone to developing complications in comparison to an inguinal hernia. In this condition, weakness in the lower groin causes an intestinal sac to fall into the femoral canal i.e., a space near the femoral vein. Due to the high risk of complications, it is advised to get a femoral hernia surgery in time.

4. Umbilical hernia- Umbilical Hernias appear near the belly button. In this type of hernia, fatty tissue or part of the intestine pushes through the abdomen near the belly button, which is naturally weak from the blood vessels of the umbilical cord. These hernias are sometimes noticed in infants right after birth. However, they usually go away by the age of three or four. In adults, umbilical hernias do not resolve on their own, and may even turn more serious with time. They are usually caused due to obesity, excessive coughing, abdominal pressure, and even pregnancy. Patients with this condition should get an Umbilical hernia surgery before the condition aggravates.

Some other types of hernia are:pne 

  • Hiatal (hiatus) Hernia
  • Epigastric Hernia
  • Spigelian Hernia
  • Diaphragmatic Hernia

When Should You See A Doctor For Hernia Surgery?

A hernia may or may not show any symptoms. Also, the symptoms of hernia and their severity can vary from person to person. Listed below are some common symptoms of hernia:

  • A visible lump or bulge
  • A pain in the affected area, especially while standing up, bending, lifting weights, or coughing.
  • Pressure or weakness in the abdomen.
  • Aching or burning sensation in the lump.
  • Having difficulty swallowing
  • Pain in chest
  • Acid Reflux

If you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms, immediately get in touch with your healthcare provider.

What Should You Expect In Hernia Surgery?

Diagnosis

Self-diagnosis:

A hernia can appear at different parts of the body. However, they commonly occur in and around the abdomen or groin area. These are usually the most common type of hernias. In the initial stages, a hernia may not cause any discomfort. However, with time, you can notice lumps or swelling in or around the affected areas. In addition, these symptoms can aggravate as you cough, stand up, or sit down. All these factors can help you in diagnosing a hernia on your own.

At The Doctor’s

On your visit to the doctor for hernia surgery, the doctor will examine the affected area. In most cases, a physical exam is enough for diagnosing a hernia. During this exam, the doctor might also ask you to stand, strain, or cough. However, in some cases, some other tests may also be required.

Some common imaging tests used to diagnose hernia include:

Ultrasound: Ultrasound is usually recommended for women. It rules out the possibility of diseases related to the reproductive system, including ovarian cysts or fibroids. The test will help doctors confirm a hernia. Additionally, in men, this ultrasound can help assess inguinal or scrotal hernias.

Computer Tomography ( CT Scan): This test is performed to rule out the possibility of conditions that can lead to abdominal pain and swelling. This scan produces an image of the abdomen and its various organs and usually involves injecting a contrast dye into your arm.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This test is recommended for patients who experience immense pain while indulging in physical exercise. In some cases, physical activity causes a hernia with no visible bulge.

Types of Hernia Surgery

Hernia can be treated through different types of surgeries. The commonly performed hernia surgeries, include:

Open Hernia Repair Surgery

This is the conventional method of hernia repair, and It is performed across the globe. In open hernia surgery, the surgeon makes a cut or incision in the affected area and identifies the sac containing the bulging intestine. The surgeon then pushes the protruding hernia back to its position and closes it with stitches. In cases where the opening is too large, the surgeons use a mesh. Mesh is a surgical device that offers additional support to weakened tissue. Mesh can be made up of synthetic materials or animal tissue. Synthetic mesh usually can be absorbable, non-absorbable, or both, however, the latter is always absorbable.

Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery

Also known as keyhole surgery for hernia, Laparoscopic hernia surgery his is an advanced method of hernia repair, which involves a minimally invasive technique to treat the condition. In this procedure the surgeon makes tiny incisions instead of a large opening. He/she then inserts a thin laparoscope with a camera and other tools to perform the procedure. CO2 gas is used to inflate the abdomen, which allows the surgeon to get a clear view of the internal organs. After the procedure is complete, the surgeons stitch the incisions. In some cases, the surgeon might also use a synthetic mesh to strengthen the weak abdominal muscles, before stitching the site.

Laparoscopic hernia surgery recovery time is relatively low, which is precisely why it has become a sought-after treatment for hernia these days.

Robotic Hernia Repair Surgery

A robotic hernia repair surgery is another minimally invasive hernia surgery, which is performed using a laparoscope. However, in this surgery, the surgeon operates through a console. The surgeon gets fantastic 3D images of the internal organs and handles the surgical instruments with the help of the console. This advanced technology allows surgeons to use minimal stitches, and place an artificial mesh to reconstruct the abdominal wall with precision.

How To Prepare For Hernia Surgery?

In order to have a smooth hernia surgery experience, preparation is key! So, on that note, here are some tips that will help you prepare for your hernia surgery and would keep you at complete ease throughout the procedure:

1) To ensure a safe treatment, you will be asked to refrain from consuming water, food, or any other fluids for six hours before the treatment. Why you may ask? The presence of food within the digestive system can cause complications at the time of surgery.

2) Make sure you take all the drugs prescribed by the doctor before the surgery. Additionally, DO NOT take medicines that your doctor has advised you to avoid. Doctors usually ask patients to avoid drugs such as blood thinners, aspirin, anti-inflammatory medicines, etc, for a week before the surgery.

3) Carry all your medical reports at the time of surgery. Also, make sure you have an attendant with you.

4) Take a shower before the surgery as you'll have to keep the surgical area clean and dry after the operation.

After Care

The Hernia surgery recovery time is usually quite low, when patients follow some after- surgery care tips. All the patients are required to take some precautions after their hernia surgery. The following tips will help patients minimize potential complications:

  • We suggest you avoid lifting anything that can cause a strain or exert physical pressure in a particular area. Doing so can cause the hernia to reoccur and lead to other complications post-surgery.
  • Take good care of your diet after hernia surgery. Make sure you eat a fiber-rich diet and drink enough fluids after your surgery. It will help you avoid constipation. Also, stick to the diet provided by your doctor.
  • Keep the surgical area dry and clean for at least 48 hours. Also, if you shower, always pat dry the surrounding area to avoid infections.

If you experience any pain after hernia surgery, communicate it to your doctor. He/she will prescribe medicines to manage the pain.

What Are The Common Hernia Surgery Complications?

Even though Hernia surgeries are incredibly safe, they can also cause some complications. Listed below are some common hernia side effects after surgery, including:

  • Seroma or hematoma formation often affects patients who have had laparoscopic surgery. However, in most cases, they resolve in 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Some patients experience urinary retention after hernia repair surgery. It usually affects elderly patients, especially those who have symptoms of prostatism.
  • Wound/mesh infections occur very rarely. However, they are very serious and require immediate medical attention. Surgeons take strict aseptic precautions during the procedure to prevent these infections.
  • During the surgery, the surgeons use a thorough repair technique to prevent the recurrence of a hernia. However, in some cases, a hernia might appear again.

Is Hernia Surgery Covered Under Insurance?

Generally, the basic treatment cost of a hernia repair surgery is covered by most general health care insurance providers. However, the cost bracket can differ for each individual. You must note that, with any other treatment, insurance only covers surgical expenses. The patient is required to be hospitalized for at least 24 hours before filing the claim. You can get in touch with us to know more about the insurance and claim process.

How To Prevent Hernia In The First Place?

A number of preventive measures can prevent a hernia from occurring in the first place. Regular exercise is key to preventing hernia, in addition to several other problems. Exercising regularly will protect your muscles and would help keep them toned, strong, and less likely to break. Here are some other tips that can help you avoid getting a hernia:

  • Stay fit- Being obese or overweight strains the body and can also cause the peritoneum i.e, the abdominal lining, to stretch. This can put you at an increased risk of developing hernias and many other physical problems.
  • Take Care Of Your Muscles- Football players, weightlifters, and other sportsmen frequently strain and can tear the muscles making them more prone to developing hernias. If you're a sportsperson, make sure you start each session with adequate warmup and stretching.
  • Add fiber to your diet- Eat fibrous food to regulate your bowel movements. This will prevent constipation and straining during bowel movements. Add more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet.
  • Be careful dealing with heavy objects- Lift heavy items with your knees instead of your back. Also, don't try to move anything too heavy for you to manage alone.
  • Avoid smoking- Smokers are prone to persistent coughs, which puts them at an increased risk of getting a hernia. In addition, it also elevates the risk of diseases such as emphysema, cancer, and different heart diseases.
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