Many inguinal hernias can be repaired using a 'closed' or laparoscopic procedure. Laparoscopic repair entails inserting special instruments through tiny incisions in the abdomen through which the surgeon is able to visualize and perform the procedure. Laparoscopic repair uses large mesh for reinforcement, so it has a lower recurrence rate. Plus, smaller incisions mean less discomfort after surgery, little to no scarring, and a quicker return to normal activity. Many people return to work within a few days.
What is a Hernia?
A hernia is a gap or space in the strong tissue that holds muscles in place. A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal muscle have weakened, resulting in a bulge or tear. In the same way that an inner tube pushes through a damaged tire, the inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area of the abdominal wall to form a small balloon like sac. This can allow a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to push into the sac. The hernia can cause discomfort, severe pain, or other potentially serious problems that could require emergency surgery.
Both men and women can get a hernia.
You may be born with a hernia (congenital) or develop one over time.
A hernia does not get better over time, nor will it go away by itself. There are no exercises or physical therapy regimen that can make a hernia go away.
How Do I know If I Have an Inguinal Hernia?
The common areas where hernias occur are in the groin (inguinal), belly button (umbilical), and the site of a previous operation (incisional).
It is usually easy to recognize a hernia. You may notice a bulge under the skin. You may feel pain or discomfort when you lift heavy objects, cough, strain during urination or bowel movements, or during prolonged standing or sitting. Other times a hernia may be detected by your doctor on a routine physical examination.
The pain may be sharp and immediate or a dull ache that gets worse toward the end of the day.
Another sign of this is if the bulge used to come and go, but now is stuck out. These symptoms are cause for concern and you should immediately contact your physician or surgeon.
What Causes an Inguinal Hernia?
The wall of the abdomen has natural areas of potential weakness. Hernias can develop at these or other areas due to heavy strain on the abdominal wall, aging, injury, an old incision or a weakness present from birth. Anyone can develop a hernia at any age. Most hernias in children are congenital. In adults, a natural weakness or strain from heavy lifting, persistent coughing, and difficulty with bowel movements or urination can cause the abdominal wall to weaken or separate. Incisional hernias are caused by incisions given to perform open surgeries. These weak areas due to previous dissection are highly prone for hernias.
What are the Advantages of Laparoscopic Inguinal Hernia Repair?
Less post-operative pain.
Smaller incisions and faster Recovery.
No further incisions required for patients with hernias in both groins (bi-lateral hernia).
Ideal method for patients with recurrent hernias after previous surgery.
Early discharge from hospital – either same day or next day after surgery.
Very early return to work. Often within 3 days for office workers and around 1 to 2 weeks for manual workers. This should be discussed with your surgeon.
Are You a Candidate for Laparoscopic Repair?
Only after a examination surgeon can determine whether laparoscopic hernia repair is right for you.