What is a hernia?

A hernia occurs when an organ or fatty tissue protrudes through a weak area in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue called the fascia. The most common types of hernias include inguinal (inner groin), incisional (occurring as a result of an incision), femoral (outer groin), umbilical (bellybutton), and hiatal (upper stomach).

What are the indications for an open hernia repair?

You may be recommended an open hernia repair if you have a very large complex hernia or if you have dense scar tissue from a previous abdominal or pelvic surgery.

How is the procedure performed?

You will be given general anaesthesia, which means you will feel no pain and sleep throughout the entire procedure. Your surgeon will then make a 2-to 4-inch incision on your abdominal wall to gain entry to the hernia. Your surgeon will then push the protruding organ or tissue back into its normal position. A piece of mesh may be then stitched to the weak area to strengthen the area and prevent recurrent herniation. The skin incision is then closed with absorbable sutures.

What can I expect after the procedure?

Most patients are able to go home the same day after the surgery. Some swelling over the incision is normal in the immediate postoperative period and you may place an ice pack on the incision site to help reduce swelling. Recovery time is about 3 weeks and you may return to light activity after 3 weeks. You should refrain from strenuous activities until 6 weeks following your surgery. Specific instructions will be given to you by your doctor regarding incision care, activities, medications, and follow-up.

When to seek medical advice?

It is important to check for any signs of problems during your postoperative period. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Increasing pain or swelling
  • Persistent fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Bleeding or discharge from the incision site
  • Difficulty breathing or persistent coughing

What are the risks?

Some of the potential risks include reaction to anaesthesia, bleeding or infection at the incision site, and damage to adjacent tissues. Smokers, patients on certain medications, and obese patients are at a greater risk for complications.