Whether you think you have a hernia or you are already planning a hernia surgery, MIS may be for you. An advanced technique, MIS offers better outcomes, shorter hospital stays, lower hospital bills, less pain, and reduced risk of complications.1
WHAT IS A HERNIA?
A hernia is when tissue — often the intestines — begins to push through the muscles in your stomach or groin.
If you’ve noticed a sudden pain or a sensation as if something has torn, it may be a hernia. A pre-existing weakness or tear in the abdominal muscle wall, which normally holds the inner lining of the abdomen and internal organs in place, allows the inner lining to protrude and form a pouch. The bulge you might see is usually a loop of intestine protruding through the tear in the muscle and into that pouch.
It’s painful. It’s also fairly simple to treat and, the sooner it’s handled, the faster you can get back to feeling like yourself.
WHO GETS HERNIAS AND WHY?
Around five million people in the U.S. are treated for hernias every year. And contrary to popular option, they’re not usually caused by lifting heavy object. More often, it comes from a simple weakness in the abdominal wall.
The percentage of hernia surgeries performed on men. Women make up 10%.2
The percentage of American men who develop a hernia in their lifetime.2,3
The age at which hernias becomes much more common in both men and women.4
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS?
Think you might have a hernia? While some hernias have no symptoms — and are found during a routine physical — most hernias will have one or more obvious signs:
- What you may feel: A dull ache, feeling of weakness, heaviness, pressure, tingling, or a burning sensation in your abdomen, groin, or scrotum. It may get worse when you stand for long periods or strain your abdominal muscles, such as when you cough, lift heavy objects, play sports, or have a bowel movement. It may feel better with rest.
- What you may see: A soft bulge in the groin area or scrotum that you can push back in with gentle pressure or that gets smaller or disappears when you lie down. The bulge may get bigger over the course of the day or when you cough, bend, lift, or strain.
- What you may notice: A sudden, sharp pain in the groin area or a sensation that something had “torn.” Even if you have no other symptoms, it is important than you see your doctor as soon as possible.
Note: If you have a bulge that you can’t push back inside, a bulge that is red, purple, or dark, or you have pain with fever, chills, and/or vomiting, go to your hospital emergency room or call 911. Do not wait — these symptoms may indicate an emergency that can become life-threatening.
HOW CAN A HERNIA BE TREATED?
A hernia will not go away by itself, and almost always gets worse the longer it’s ignored. The tear grows, and the larger the tear, the bigger the procedure needed to fix it. The only way to repair a hernia is through surgery.5
The good news? Surgical techniques have come a long way since your (grand)father’s hernia repair. New procedures and materials offer options that can greatly decrease discomfort and speed recovery, so you can get back to your health — and your life — much faster than you might think.
WHAT ARE MY SURGICAL OPTIONS?
MIS, Laparoscopic, or Robotic Repair — Many inguinal hernias can be repaired using a minimally invasive or laparoscopic or “closed’ procedure — especially when they’re smaller. Laparoscopic repair entails inserting special instruments through tiny incisions in the abdomen through which the surgeon can visualize and perform the procedure.
Patients who undergo laparoscopic hernia repair with mesh have fewer complications, shorter length of stay, lower hospital charges, and quicker return to work compared with those who undergo open repair.6,7
Open Tension Repair — Until about 25 years ago, hernias were repaired one way, referred to as ”open tension” repair. Here’s what that means:
- Open: An incision of 3 to 6 inches is made in the abdomen to give the surgeon access to the hernia.
- Tension: The edges of healthy tissue around the hernia are pulled together and sewn with sutures.
- The incision is then closed with dissolving sutures or abdominal adhesive.
This method may be the only way to repair a very large hernia. The incision tends to be painful and recovery can take as long as 5 to 6 weeks. The incision also leaves a scar, although it’s usually very low on the abdomen. Tension repair has a higher recurrence rate than non-tension, or mesh, repair.8,9
Nontension Mesh Repair —The smaller your hernia (meaning the earlier you fix it), the more options you’re likely to have. Nontension mesh repair may be an option for you. With this option, rather than pulling together the tissue around the hernia, a piece of mesh is positioned to reinforce the area and fixed in place with sutures and/or staples. The mesh is made of a flexible material that stays in the abdomen and encourages new tissue to grow into it.
Mesh repair has a lower incidence of recurrence than tension repair.8,9 There are also different kinds of mesh, including patches, plugs, three-dimensional, expanding, self-absorbing, and even self-gripping mesh that requires few to no sutures to keep it in place.
Learn About Hernia Surgery
If all the information about hernia surgery feels overwhelming, download one of our hernia datasheets.
Each features key details and quick stats on why many patients choose minimally invasive surgery.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR SURGEON
The following is a list of questions to ask your surgeon:
- Which hernia repair procedures are you most comfortable with/do you perform the most?
- Which procedure do you recommend to fix my hernia and why?
- What risks are associated with this type of surgery?
- Do I have more than one option?
- What kind of anesthesia will I need?
- What is the recurrence rate with the recommended procedure?
- Do I need to stay in the hospital?
- Will my insurance cover the surgery?
- Will I need pain medication after surgery?
- When will I be able to return to work?
- When and how often will I need to see you for follow-up visits?
LOOKING FOR A HERNIA REPAIR SURGEON?
The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) can help you find MIS physicians, specializing in hernia repair and related surgeries.Visit SAGES.ORG