Hernia surgery is a common general surgical procedure that millions of people worldwide have undergone. The techniques involved are customizable according to the type of hernia you have. There are several types of hernia and each one requires a specific method for repairing the damage while preventing future occurrences. Before we get to each type and how the general surgeon fixes you up, let’s examine some statistics.
According to Cleveland Clinic, 75% to 80% of all hernias are inguinal or femoral. Both of these hernia types are caused by weakened muscles that are associated with aging and repeated strains on the abdominal and groin areas. These hernias can also be caused by defects that may have been present since birth.
2% of all hernias are incisional or ventral. Incisional hernias are caused by previous surgeries on the abdomen and pelvis. Ventral hernias refer to a protrusion of the intestine or other tissue through a weakness or gap in the abdominal wall.
3% to 10% of hernias are umbilical, which affects 10% to 20% of newborns (though most close by themselves by five years of age).
1% to 3% are other types of hernias. We will be discussing all of the types and their associated procedures in this post. We will also cover the techniques involved with the various types of hernias, as well as what to expect before, during, and after.
Hernia surgeries are only one type of general surgical procedure commonly performed at Healthy Life Bariatrics. If you have questions and don’t want to wait until the end of the article, call Doctor Babak Moeinolmolki to schedule a consultation at (310)881-8503.
What is a Hernia and When Do You Require Surgery?
You are said to have a hernia when an internal organ pushes through a weakened spot in your muscle or other tissue. It is important to treat hernias quickly before problems occur.
Different Types of Hernias
Most hernias happen within the abdominal cavity. The most common location is between the chest and hips.
An inguinal hernia varies depending on the sex of the patient. In men, an inguinal hernia occurs in the inguinal canal, which is the passageway for the spermatic cord and blood vessels that lead to the testicles.
In women, the inguinal canal contains a rounded ligament that supports the uterus.
An inguinal hernia occurs when fatty tissue or a portion of the intestine pokes into the groin at the top of the inner thigh in both sexes. This is the most common type of hernia, which affects men more often than women.
This form of hernia occurs when fatty tissue or a portion of the intestine protrudes into the groin at the top of the inner thigh. Femoral hernias do not happen as often as inguinal hernias and older women tend to be most affected.
When fatty tissue or a portion of the intestine pushes through the abdominal wall near the navel, the patient is said to suffer from an umbilical hernia.
A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach (the hiatus) pushes up into the chest cavity through an opening in the diaphragm.
This hernia is caused by tissue protruding through the site of a previous abdominal scar, usually by way of a remote pelvic or abdominal operation.
When fatty tissue protrudes through the weakened abdominal wall between the belly button and the lower portion of the sternum, this is known as an epigastric hernia.
This type of hernia is caused by the intestine pushing through the abdominal wall at the side of the abdominal muscle, below the belly button.
This type of hernia is caused by abdominal organs moving into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm.
All types of hernias may require surgery. The ailment may not get better on its own. While some people are able to live just fine with a hernia, others may grow worse. Over time, a neglected hernia can grow larger and more painful. This can lead to complications and possibly emergency surgery. The earlier you repair the hernia the more successful and less risky surgery tends to be. You also stand to experience a better recovery and outcome with early intervention.
How is Hernia Surgery Performed?
The first step to treating a hernia is to visit your general practitioner. Hernias that require surgery will see you referred to a general surgeon. The surgeon will tailor a method to treat your condition based on the type of hernia and the treatment area. There are three primary methods for treating hernias.
What Type of Anesthesia is Used for Hernia Repair Surgery?
Your surgeon will decide which kind of anesthesia you will receive before the procedure begins. There are three types of anesthesia that will be considered. General anesthesia is a medicine that keeps you unconscious (asleep) and pain-free for the duration of the procedure. Regional anesthesia numbs you from the waist down to your feet. Local anesthesia is medicine given in strategic locations to relax you. Your surgeon will discuss these types and recommend one or a combination based on your health and other safety factors.
Three Types of Hernia Surgery
Open (Conventional) Hernia Surgery
Open hernia repair is the most common type performed in the country. The surgery involves a single long incision placed over the location of the hernia. Once the surgeon has access to the internal organs, a piece of mesh is typically placed over the muscles to reinforce the weakened tissues.
Open hernia repair is usually completed in less than two hours and offers quite a few benefits. The first benefit is the ability to treat large and complex hernias. The surgeon can connect two pieces of mesh to the hernia on two sides, which strengthens the tissue and prevents future hernia occurrences. Open hernia surgery can also be performed under local or spinal anesthesia, which offers alternatives to general anesthesia. As you may know, general anesthesia is associated with the most risks. Further, open surgery tends to be the most economically sound since other techniques employ more advanced (and expensive) technology compared to open hernia surgeries.
Laparoscopic Hernia Repair
Laparoscopic hernia repair is a minimally invasive surgical technique used for repairing many hernia types. The procedure employs the use of three to four incisions along with a tool called a laparoscope. The latter is a thin tube with a camera attached at the end. The laparoscope is guided into the body via a tiny incision. The scope is then used to hold the protruding tissues in place. This type of hernia surgery takes around one hour to complete in most cases.
Laparoscopic hernia repair is useful for smaller and less complex hernia types. This hernia surgery type must be performed using general anesthesia. This means that you will be asleep for the duration of the procedure. Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the surgeon makes three to four incisions around the treatment area. One incision will measure less than an inch wide while the others are even smaller.
The larger of the incisions is used to insert the laparoscope, which is used to guide the surgeon through the rest of the surgery. The view captured by the camera on the scope is transferred to a monitor in the operating room. The remaining tools are inserted through the other tiny incisions.
At this point, the abdomen is often inflated with a harmless gas to create space for the surgeon to work. The surgeon carefully pulls the contents of the hernia back to their natural position. A single piece of mesh can then be placed on the inner side of the gap to reinforce the weakened abdominal wall.
Robotic Hernia Repair
Of the three forms of hernia surgery, the robotic repair is considered the most effective and least invasive. Small and large hernia repairs can be performed using robotic techniques.
Once you are prepped for surgery, the general surgeon manipulates robotic arms with instruments at a console instead of manually inserting instruments into the body. The robotic hands move in conjunction with the surgeon’s hands, giving the specialist a greater range of motion and enhanced precision when compared to traditional or laparoscopic surgery.
The incisions used for robotic hernia surgery are known as keyhole incisions. The tools are inserted through these tiny cuts before a mesh patch is placed behind the abdominal wall.
Similar to laparoscopic surgery, robotic hernia surgery boasts a lower infection risk, shorter recovery time, and less pain overall than traditional surgery.
How Do You Prepare for Hernia Surgery?
A majority of hernia operations are performed on an outpatient basis. That means you will usually find yourself returning home on the same day. Before having surgery, you will undergo blood work, a medical evaluation, a chest x-ray, and an EKG (depending on your age and medical condition). The general surgeon will next have you sign a written consent for surgery.
Your surgeon and surgical staff will recommend that you shower the night before or the morning of your hernia operation. If you have difficulty moving your bowels, you can undergo an enema or similar preparation after consulting your surgeon.
You should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before hernia surgery. Drugs like aspirin, blood thinners, and anti-inflammatory medications, as well as Vitamin E, should be stopped temporarily for several days to a week before surgery.
Finally, you will be advised to arrange for help when it comes time to return home. You should plan to have someone drive you home afterward. You’ll want to take it easy after surgery, too, so you may need extra help at home. To aid with recovery, quit smoking at least two weeks prior to your procedure.
What Can You Expect with Hernia Recovery?
Recovery time following hernia surgery depends on the hernia type and the surgical procedure used to repair the problem. Most patients feel mild to moderate discomfort at the treatment site. The general surgeon can prescribe oral painkillers to make you more comfortable. Once you are able to tolerate a light snack and move around adequately, the surgeon will discharge you from the surgical center.
Complex hernia repairs may require a night or two in the hospital. Greater discomfort may be felt with these types of hernias, which may require stronger pain medications before you are able to care for yourself.
You may remove the bandages from the treatment site after 24 hours. You can shower but your general surgeon will advise you to refrain from tub baths and swimming for at least two weeks. After showering, pat the incision site dry. There may be a drain left at the incision site with the dressing on it. You should remove the dressing and wash around the drain before applying light gauze around it. You can use a pillow over the surgical area and hold pressure should you need to cough or breathe deeply, or sneeze.
Contact an Experienced Hernia Surgeon in Los Angeles, California
A hernia can sometimes be harmless. You get a bulge in your abdomen, but it can always be pushed back in. Then there are those hernias that seem to get worse. The bulge gets larger and the pain more intense. These are the hernias that may require surgery.
The main threat with hernias is that the tissue that pushes through the abdominal wall will become strangulated, which means the blood flow is cut off. Those types of hernias can be fatal.
Hernia surgery can repair your hernia and keep the problem from coming back. For this, you need an experienced hernia surgeon.
If you live in Southern California and want to experience a successful, low-risk surgery with stellar results, contact Healthy Life Bariatrics. Doctor Babak Moeinolmolki would like to discuss your hernia, surgical goals, insurance, fees, and financing with you during a discreet consultation. Dial (310)881-8503 to schedule a time that works best for you.