Have you noticed a new lump or bulge in your abdomen? Is there pain or discomfort in the area when you bend over, turn your body, or cough?
These symptoms can be signs of an abdominal hernia, a common condition in which an organ pushes through the muscle and tissues holding it in place. Left untreated, a hernia can cause serious complications, obstructing the bowel and producing severe pain, nausea, and the inability to eliminate bodily waste.
Unfortunately, a hernia is not a condition that will go away on its own. Surgery is usually required to reposition the organ and repair damage to the surrounding tissues.
What causes an abdominal hernia?
Abdominal hernias are common, with a lifetime risk of 27% for men and 3% for women.
A hernia is often caused by significant pressure on the abdomen or an existing weakness, including:
- Obesity or sudden weight gain
- Existing muscle weakness
Do you need hernia surgery?
If you have a hernia your doctor will likely recommend surgery. This is because abdominal hernias do not go away on their own and there may be serious risks if your hernia is left untreated.
What are the typical procedures for hernia surgery?
At Okanagan Surgical Health Centre, we offer two main procedures for hernia surgery, depending on the degree of organ or muscle damage and the required repairs.
- Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery. This procedure is minimally invasive, using a small camera called a laparoscope to investigate the area of the hernia and repair damage to the surrounding tissues.
- Open Hernia Surgery. This is a more extensive procedure where the surgeon makes a large incision in the abdomen to push the protruded organ back into place or remove the hernia.
With both types of hernia surgery, patients are usually able to return home on the same day of the procedure.
How should you prepare before surgery?
Your surgeon will provide a comprehensive list of instructions to help prepare before the procedure.
Generally, you’ll want to prepare for your hernia surgery by:
- Planning the prescribed time off from work and other obligations
- Confirming you have a trusted caregiver to transport you to and from the clinic. You will also need assistance at home following your procedure.
- Abstaining from alcohol, smoking, and any medications or supplements that can impede blood clotting, such as aspirin
- Fasting at the designated time before your scheduled surgery
What is the recovery time after surgery?
The recovery times for hernia surgery can vary significantly depending on your type of procedure.
- Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery - most patients will need to rest for the first day or two and will be advised to avoid strenuous activity and lifting heavy objects for 4 to 6 weeks following the procedure.
- Open Hernia Surgery - requires a larger incision area, so the recovery time for this type of procedure will take longer. Typically, it takes about 3 weeks to recover after Open Hernia Surgery, and at least 6 weeks before returning to strenuous exercise.
As always, it is important to follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully for post-operative care after your procedure, as recovery times and recommended activities may vary for your unique situation.
To learn more about hernia surgery and whether this procedure is right for you, contact the Okanagan Health Surgical Centre at: 250-868-9799.