How Does Hernia Surgery Work?
Hernia surgery is routine for most experienced general surgery practices and therefore comes with low intra-operative and post-operative risk. Most hernia surgeries today are performed using a tension-free repair technique which involves the placement of mesh to reinforce the repair. By covering the defects with mesh, rather than suturing the defect closed, the chances of hernia recurrence are diminished significantly and the repair remains stronger, for longer.
A mesh hernia repair can be performed in two ways – open or laparoscopic.
In open surgery, an approximately 4-inch incision is made it over the hernia site, the contents of the hernia are reduced back into the abdomen and a mesh is affixed to healthy surrounding tissue. This procedure is often performed with only local or regional anesthesia and requires approximately an hour or less of operative time.
Laparoscopic hernia repair surgery requires only three tiny incisions, one of which is often placed inside the naval for cosmetic reasons. During this procedure, the patient is under general anesthesia and specially-made laparoscopic tools are passed through the incisions. The mesh is placed over the defect from the inside of the abdomen, a deeper location, and the mesh is affixed to healthy surrounding tissue using absorbable tacks or sutures. Laparoscopic hernia repair requires slightly more operative time and greater surgical skill, however recovery time is reduced significantly.
A discussion with your surgeon is necessary to understand which of these options is best for your circumstance.
The typical risks of hernia surgery are low and may include:
- Blood loss
- Recurrence of the hernia
- Chronic pain three or more months after surgery (more likely with open surgery)
- Mesh complications
- Other inherent risks of an abdominal surgery
The majority of hernia surgery patients have excellent outcomes and prognoses after their surgery. Some considerations to keep in mind are that A) the experience of the practice performing the surgery makes a big difference in outcomes. Many of the risks mentioned above can be avoided with proper surgical technique. B) Elective hernia surgery is associated with far fewer complications than emergency surgery required due to incarceration or strangulation of the hernia, especially if the large intestine or other organs are also involved.
You may also have heard of Absorbable Synthetic and Biologic Mesh.