If hernia surgery is in your future, you might be a little nervous about what to expect. The first thing you should know is that hernia surgery is very common, with more than 1.6 million procedures performed each year in the United States. Hernias are common, too; about 1 in 10 Americans develops a hernia at some point.
One way to feel more prepared and relaxed before your hernia repair surgery is to ask your doctor plenty of questions. In this post, Michael H. Tarlowe, MD, discusses some of the most common questions we hear from patients at our practice in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
What caused my hernia?
Hernias happen when organs or tissues protrude through a wall of muscle tissue. Most hernias develop when part of your intestine pushes through the abdominal wall. This can occur anywhere from the groin to the upper belly area, near your chest.
Many hernias develop with age, as years of repetitive strain causes weak spots in your muscles. Hernias can also occur following a surgical procedure or an injury. Hernia risk factors include weight gain, pregnancy, lifting heavy loads, chronic coughing, and chronic constipation.
Can my hernia be managed without surgery?
There are no medicines or therapies that can be used to make your hernia go away. While you might be able to delay surgery for a hernia that’s not causing any symptoms, fixing a hernia requires surgery to repair it.
What happens during hernia repair surgery?
There are two primary approaches to hernia surgery: open and laparoscopic. In open hernia surgery, Dr. Tarlowe uses one long incision to access the hernia. Then, he places the protruding tissue or organ back into its normal position before reinforcing the weak spot with stitches or mesh.
Laparoscopic hernia repair surgery uses three tiny incisions. One incision is used to insert the laparoscope, a long, flexible instrument with a light and camera at its tip. The camera captures real-time video of the hernia, which is seen on a special monitor. The abdomen is inflated with an inert gas to make viewing the hernia easier. Then, other instruments are used to perform the repair with a mesh.
What approach will you use for my surgery?
Each approach offers its own unique advantages. Dr. Tarlowe decides on the optimal approach based on the type of hernia you have, your symptoms, your anatomy, your medical history, and other factors.
How long does it take to recover?
Recovery time can vary based on the type of hernia you have and the technique used to repair it. In general, you’ll be able to resume most of your activities within a couple of weeks, but you’ll need to avoid strenuous activities for 4-6 weeks in most cases.
What will I feel like after my surgery?
After your surgery, some pain is common, but usually, it’s fairly mild. Over-the-counter pain medication can help, and before discharge, we may provide you with a prescription for a limited amount of stronger pain medicine.
Most hernia repair surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis, but for more complex surgeries, you may need to stay overnight in a hospital.
What should I do to prepare for my surgery?
Before your surgery, you’ll need to follow dietary restrictions and you may need to change how you take certain medicines. We’ll provide you with detailed instructions beforehand to help you get ready. Be sure to have someone to drive you home afterward.
Having help with chores is a good idea, too, since your activities — including driving — will be limited initially. Some patients make meals ahead of time or have reading materials or movies on hand for the first day or two, so they can relax while they heal.
Get the answers to your questions
Asking questions about your surgery and your recovery is an important part of feeling comfortable and confident in your care. If you have questions about your upcoming surgery, call us at 954-210-7127 or book an appointment online with Dr. Tarlowe today.