Hernia Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if a hernia is left untreated?

Depending on the type of hernia, leaving them untreated can be disastrous. For smaller hernias without symptoms, watching and waiting is a reasonable option in a motivated patient, however in larger hernias, intestine or other organs can get stuck and can “strangulate”, causing pain and putting the intestine or organ at risk of dying. The only hernias which can be safely monitored are small belly button or groin hernias without symptoms.

How serious is hernia surgery?

Hernia surgery can range from a 30-minute procedure done under local anesthesia to a 8-10 hour complex reconstruction. In general, most hernia surgery at specialized centers such as our own, have adopted robotic technology which allow us to fix larger and more complex hernias through several small incisions as opposed to a large incision. This allows patients to be discharged after a short hospital stay with less pain and risk of complications.

What is the recovery time for hernia surgery?

Most hernia surgery can be done on an outpatient basis, and typically pain and soreness may only last 1-2 weeks. Afterwards, most patients feel back to normal. Some patients feel like going back to work after 1-2 days! For larger or more complex hernias, the recovery may be longer, but your surgeon will explain the whole process.

Do hernias cause constipation?

This is more likely to be the other way around! Chronic constipation can lead to increased pressure inside of your belly, which has a higher likelihood of creating hernias.

What types of hernias are there?

There are several different types of hernias, but the most common types are groin and abdominal hernias, however hernias can present in the chest or back as well.

What causes hernias?

There is typically not a single reason that someone develops a hernia, however the most common causes are chronic cough, chronic constipation, persistent heavy lifting, multiple pregnancies, or disease of connective tissue. There is no true way to avoid getting hernias but getting a chronic cough or constipation under control may be protective.

When can I go back to work after hernia surgery?

We recommend taking 1 week off from work for recovery. Some patients may even feel like going back to work after a couple of days, but 1 week is about average for recovery.

Why is mesh used in hernia surgery?

Hernias tend to develop in areas of weakness of the abdominal wall. Bringing together weak tissue may not be enough for an effective repair. Mesh is a synthetic material used to reinforce weak tissue. Multiple studies have shown that this reduces the risk of recurrence of the hernia without increasing complication rate, and have been shown to be quite safe with the risk of allergic reaction or rejection to be extremely rare.

What if I have a hernia and I’m pregnant?

We recommend waiting until delivery until addressing the hernia, as pregnancy puts the repair at risk of failing, however if surgery is needed, it is typically done in the 2nd trimester, where risk to the mother and fetus are the lowest.

What is the most common kind of hernia?

The most common kind of hernia is an inguinal hernia. Up to 15 percent of men and 2 percent of women will develop an inguinal hernia at some point during their lifetime.