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What's It Like? ... to get a hernia repaired

General surgeons frequently repair hernias. A hernia is simply a hole in the body in a place it doesn't belong. Dr. Daniel Isbell, of Norman Regional Health System, explains what it's like to have a hernia repaired.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: October 7, 2012

Why get a hernia repaired?

A hernia occurs when part of an internal organ comes through a weak area of muscle.

For example, a hernia in your abdomen might develop as a hole in the outer wall of the abdominal wall, a tough layer known as fascia, and part of the inside of your abdomen might start to poke through, creating a hernial sac.

Not all hernias need to be repaired. The decision on whether to operate, in part, would depend on a person's symptoms.

If a person with a hernia notices a bulge that they can't explain or they're in pain because of the hernia, then a doctor might recommend repair. In more extreme cases, a piece of intestine can become stuck in the hernia, blocking a person's bowels.

Sometimes the cause of a hernia isn't known. Hernias are commonly found in the abdomen. Inguinal hernias, found in the groin, also are common.

People who suffer from acid reflux might be familiar with hiatal hernias, a condition where part of a person's stomach sticks into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm.

What happens when a hernia is repaired?

How a hernia is repaired depends on the type and size of the hernia and also whether you've had previous repairs.

For example, your doctor might recommend a laparoscopic hernia repair. If this is the case, a medical team will repair your hernia by making a few cuts and then placing ports, which look similar to large golf tees, into your body. They will place medical tools and possibly some mesh through these ports to repair your hernia. The mesh used is usually either made of a synthetic material or animal or human skin. If skin mesh is used, your body usually will replace it with new tissue.

Minor hernia surgery usually takes no longer than 45 minutes. Surgery to repair larger hernias, such as those found in the abdomen, could take up to six hours, depending on the severity of the hernia.

Does it hurt?

The amount of pain you feel after surgery will depend, again, on the size and severity of the hernia. With any surgery, there's some soreness involved.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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