A hernia occurs when fatty tissue or an organ pushes through a weak place in the surrounding connective tissue or muscle wall. Hernias usually don’t get better on their own. They tend to get bigger. In rare cases, they can lead to life-threatening complications. That’s why doctors often recommend surgery. But not every hernia needs immediate treatment. It depends on the size and symptoms. If it doesn’t become symptomatic, it may not need treatment at all.
A surgical hernia repair involves pushing the bulge back inside the body part that should contain it using mesh and keeping it there.
Types of Hernia Surgery
Your doctor can remove your hernia in one of two ways. Both are done at a hospital or surgery center. You’ll usually go home within a few days. In many cases, you’ll be able to go home the same day as your procedure.
Open surgery: You will receive general anesthesia before having open surgery. The surgeon makes a cut (incision) to open your skin. They’ll gently push the hernia back into place, tie it off, or remove it. Then they’ll close the weak area of the muscle — where the hernia pushed through — with stitches. For larger hernias, your surgeon may add a piece of flexible mesh for extra support. It’ll help keep the hernia from coming back.
Laparoscopic surgery: In this surgery, your abdomen is inflated with a harmless gas. This gives the surgeon a better look of your organs. They’ll make a few small incisions (cuts) near the hernia. They’ll insert a thin tube with a tiny camera on the end (laparoscope). The surgeon uses images from the laparoscope as a guide to repairing the hernia with mesh. For laparoscopic surgery, you’ll receive general anesthesia.
Recovery is usually faster with laparoscopic surgery: On average, patients are back to their normal routine a week sooner than with open surgery.
What kind of surgery you’ll need often depends on the size, type, and location of your hernia. Your doctor will also consider your lifestyle, health, and age.
Non-Surgical Hernia Treatments
Your physician may recommend that you wear a corset, binder, or truss. These supportive undergarments apply gentle pressure on the hernia and keep it in place. They may ease discomfort or pain. They’re used if you aren’t able to have surgery, or for temporary relief before your procedure. Only use these garments under your doctor’s supervision.
When to Call a Doctor
Once you return home, call your doctor immediately if:
- You have a fever.
- Your incision becomes red, swollen, and tender.
- Your incision oozes blood.
You have severe pain or swelling near the location of the surgery.