A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue protrudes through a weak spot in surrounding muscles or tissues. There are many types of hernias that may occur in different areas of the body. The best form of treatment for an individual hernia depends on many factors, including the severity of the hernia and the location. While many hernias may resolve themselves with time, others may require surgical intervention. Your doctor will not only diagnose your hernia, but will also assess the severity and help you determine the best course of action for your individual situation.
There are two main types of surgery – open surgery and laparoscopic (or minimally invasive) surgery. In an open hernia surgery, an incision is made near the bulge. The surgeon then repairs the surgery through this incision. Open surgery requires a longer recovery period and presents greater risk of complication and infection. Open surgery may even require a stay in the hospital following surgery. A laparoscopic surgery is often performed on an outpatient basis, meaning a hospital stay is not required. With this sort of surgery, two to four small incisions are made surrounding the bulge. Small instruments and a tiny lighted camera are inserted through these incisions. The tiny camera relays images onto a screen in the operating room that allows the surgeon to see the inside of the body. The surgeon uses these images to repair the hernia without having to completely open the area. This allows for a shorter, easier recovery period and lowers the risk of infection and complication.
The goal of hernia surgery is to put the protruding organ or tissue back in place and prevent it from breaking through the weak spot again. In small hernias, the surgeon may stitch the edges of healthy muscle or tissue together if he/she determines this stitching will not place undue stress on the tissue. In the case of larger hernias, however, a mesh patch is usually the preferred method. Once the protruding organ or tissue is replaced into its natural position, this mesh patch is sewn into the weakened area through which the bulging organ protruded. These patches prevent the hernia from recurring and prevent undue pressure on the weakened area. Recovery time for hernia surgeries depends on the location of the hernia, as well as whether the patient has had open or laparoscopic surgery.