Quick Answers to the 25 Most Frequently Asked Questions…
(In no particular order)
1 Is it dangerous to ignore the hernia?
Most hernias, if not treated, do nothing more than get bigger. However, hernias can get very painful, often without warning and at their worst can strangulate, which can demand an ambulance and immediate emergency surgery or the consequences could be extreme.
2 What is a Strangulated Hernia?
If the window in the abdominal wall should decide to close and clamp shut whilst a fold ofbowel (for example)is poking through it, this is a strangulated hernia.It cuts off the blood supply to the bowel which rapidly turns very unpleasant. It is usually extremely painful and is a surgical emergency. Sometimesit can require treatment within minutes, requiring an ambulance trip to the emergency room at the nearest hospital.
If you have pain with a hernia, especially a small one, you should not wait to see what happens. Get it repaired as soon as possible.
See the important section onStrangulated Hernia.
3 My local hospital/doctor/surgeon says they do the same operation. If that is the case, why do I need to come to you?
Not many of them really do, but if your local hospital really does do the same operation – and by a dedicated, highly expereinced team specialising in hernia who are achieving – and publishing – the same results, you can use either of us. Not all hernia operations are the same, unfortunately, nor are the outcomes, so choose wisely.
The next Question will help you…
4 How can I know if hernia surgery provided at my local hospital really is the same as at The British Hernia Centre?
The easiest way to compare is to start with these simple questions. For example,
- How many tens of thousands of hernia cases has your surgeon and his team performed? (Always ask that question)
- Is it done routinely under just local anaesthesia?
- Will you need overnight hospital admission at all?
- Will you be able to return to work and normal activities in the same amount of time?
- Are the risks of recurrence anything like the same?
- Do they have a 100% safety record andZERO MRSA?
5 Is there any advantage to being treated at a specialist hernia centre?
Hernia surgery is no different to any other walk of life in this regard. If other operations are done better by people who specialise in that work, then hernia is no different. Expert opinion now recognises the importance of specialisation in hernia, not only by the surgeon, but the rest of the team and the unit where the work is done.
Our own results have been improved on because of our experience with so many cases each year. We started off with excellent results, but by doing tens of thousands of hernias, even they were dramatically improved upon.See Value of Specialisation.
6 My Family Doctor says: “If it doesn’t hurt you, just leave it alone and see what happens.” Is this really good advice?
We would not seek to contradict any doctor, but we are increasingly coming to the view that this can be very bad advice.
As hernia specialists, we know that herniasonlytend to get worse and every day we leave them untreated, we run the risks of complications setting in as well as facing a larger operation eventually.
Theonly advice that should be given once a hernia is diagnosed is to get it repaired as soon as possible.
Many of the giant, even inoperable, hernias we see started off being ignored due to well-meaning advice by their GP.
Apart from the risks of strangulation, hernias can just get bigger and bigger.
This hernia (see photo) started off as a small bulge by his navel. It did not hurt him and he decided to accept the common yet mistaken belief that there was no reason to undergo surgery yet.
Of course as it became larger he still chose to put off dealing with it until it reached this stage, which was really not at all sensible. Sadly we see cases like this all the time.
This is pretty graphic evidence why we feel that the only advice that should be given once a hernia is diagnosed is to get it repaired as soon as possible.
7 I’m pregnant.Should I fix the hernia before the baby is born?
Probably not, but click here for important and helpful information on
8 I do not have a bulge and my doctor does not know if this is a hernia or not. How can I be sure?
The bulge is a very common symptom of hernia, but not all hernias have bulges…and not all groin pain is hernia.
To find out with more certainty in cases that are difficult to distinguish, you should be seen by a hernia specialist. For more information on confusing cases of groin injury click the link to Sport, Groin Pain and Hernia.
9 I had my hernia repaired somewhere else. How long before I can do things again?
Everybody repairs hernias differently and with different levels of expertise.The results are very widely varied. Although our patients are able to do whatever they likeas soon as they like, elsewhere it can take weeks or months to get back to normal. We cannot tell you what to expect, only the surgeon who did it can. Check the link toWhy Specialise?
10 What are the symptoms of a hernia – Is what I have found a hernia?
Unless you are a doctor, do not try self-diagnosis. The reasons are many, including that there are several possible symptoms (some, none or any mixture of) which you may have and may detect. However, what you have might be something else entirely and bythinking (perhaps incorrectly) that you can diagnose it as a hernia, you may be putting something else at great risk of going untreated.
If you have symptoms indicating something is not right, then see a doctor who can diagnose it for you properly. We do not recommendany other course as sensible.
11 I heard that Keyhole surgery is the best technique available. Do you agree?
Keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery represents a great advance in many areas of surgery, such as ovaries, throats, knees, etc.
For hernia though, we find that results that are as good, or better, can be achieved without the risks of keyhole surgery (except in certain specific cases).
Furthermore, our preferred approach does not need general anaesthesia. Keyhole surgery can only be done with general anaesthesia or spinal injections, which carry additional risks.
We stress that different ideas and beliefs by surgeons are healthy in order to make the changes that lead to advances and improvements. Although there are some eminent proponents of keyhole hernia repair, we do more of these tension-free hernia repairs than any hospital in the entire world, so we could use any technique known to surgical science. Our conclusions are therefore based upon very significant experience.
We DO offer laparoscopy, but in very specific cases where we find that to be more appropriate than the open repair we describe.
See Methods of Repair.
12 Can a hernia affect erections?
Uncomfortable or painful hernias have been known to cause such problems, because erectile function is very easily interfered with and if one gets any kind of pain with erection, the self-defence mechanism kicks in and prevents the pain by reducing the erection. It can be as simple as that.
This should get back to normal as soon as the underlying cause, namely the hernia, is dealt with. However, if the situation is allowed to continue for a long time, return to normal erectile function might not be quite so simple.
13 I am a lady in my eighties. My doctor tells me I am tooold for hernia surgery but my hernia is so large, it makes me look pregnant and am too embarrassed to leave my home. Can anything be done?
Almost certainly it can. Until now, much about hernia surgery has been quite dangerous in the elderly, or for patients with other complications.
The operations we now do are perfectly suitable for most such patients and you can be rid of the hernia problems very easily.
We see patients much older than you.
Click here for more on who is suited to surgery
14 What is a Spigelian Hernia?
All the names of the different hernias really relate only to where they are on the body, a rough guide to which is shown here (see diagram).
Spigelian hernia is much less common than others, but is nevertheless still a hernia in the abdominal wall, slightly to the side of the upper abdomen. It is, like the others, an opening of a window in the wall tissue which needs to be closed by surgery. For all other aspects, what you see on our website is the same information for all the abdominal wall hernias, including these.
We repair these hernias in almost exactly the same way as we repair the others, with a tension-free reinforcement. The operation is safer, the recovery is much faster and the long-term outcome better.
Once the diagnosis has been confirmed one should have the surgery and, ifpossible, by a hernia specialist who uses this modern technique routinely.
15 My child has a hernia. What needs to be done about it and who do I need to see?
Paediatric hernia must never be ignored. Things happen much faster in children and delay in treating a child’s hernia that mayneed treatment (not all of them do) could cause harm now and damage the child’s development.
See full details at Paediatric hernia
16 It doesn’t hurt me at all.Do I really have to get my hernia repaired?
Yes! There are many reasons why. Hernias (in adult life) do not repair themselves. In fact, they normally only get worse. Every day you leave your hernia, it gets slightly bigger, you are a day older, and the tissue just a little less ‘co-operative’. All you are doing is putting offtreatment and could be suffering symptoms while you do so. The obvious problems include pain, enlargement and at worst, strangulation (sometimes without warning).
Once diagnosed, abdominal wall hernias should be repaired as soon as possible andby the best techniques available.
17 Is there any way I can prevent myself from getting a hernia?
No.It is unfortunately somethingthat can afflict anyone. About one in ten of us will have one, which is an awfully large number.
18 I had a hernia repaired and it has come back (recurred). Can’t it be fixed once and for all?
Traditionally (using previous techniques)many hernia repairsfail (recur) and they tend to fare even worse when they get repaired again. The failure rate is thought to double with each subsequent attempt.
Happily we now have a proven technique which is so reliable that even hernias which have recurred and recurred several times over are as reliable as primary (first time) repairs. The risks of recurrence are an insignificant fraction of one percent.
See the page specifically on Recurrent Hernia.
19 Is there a link between Hernia and Testicles?
Yes. But it may not be what you think. Click to see the section on the page covering Testicular Involvement.
20 Are hernias hereditary?
No.We all inherit an anatomical weakness as part of the design of the human body and are thus susceptible to hernias.
21 Are hernias normally repaired by hernia specialists?
Most hernias around the world are repaired by general surgeons as just one of the list of procedures they perform. Hernia isnot a subject that has attracted enough interest generally to make it a specialised area. Theslow development of modern hernia techniques is a result. We feel that hernia needs specialisation.
22 If I am Self-Paying, what are the costs?
This depends upon a few variables. We repair just about every kind of hernia there is and we see patients who range fromthe peak of fitness and good health to really elderlyand sometimes infirm patients. Some hernias are straight-forward, primary (first time) repairs, others are recurrences of repairsdone elsewhere. Some are single, some are double hernias (or even more!) – and so forth. Typically the total costs are surprisingly affordable, but we need to know about the case to give an accurate guide. Try that form on the Contact Us Page. There is one for Abdominal Wall Hernia, another for Hiatus Hernia. That gives us the most important information about your case and we get back to you with our recommendations and a guide of the costs.
Not everything that is excellent is expensive and you may be very pleasantly surprised at how affordable it is.
23 My Insurance, HMO or National Health Service may not cover me to have this specialised treatment. What should I do?
If you are in this position, you must still remember that it isyourbody and your health at stake. If you feel that you can get something you vastly prefer to what they make available to you, then go for it yourself.
See the previous answer. As we say, not everything that is excellent is expensive and you may be very pleasantly surprised at how affordable it is.
24 I am planning a holiday in xxxxxx. My hernia is not really troublesome but I am worried something might happen away from home. What should I do?
Do NOT go on any kind of active holiday or travel anywhere far from good surgical care with a known hernia condition. You are at risk AND may well find yourself uninsured under the terms of your travel insurance. See the page on Holidays with known hernias.
25 If I want to see you, can you see me quickly?
Most certainly. Hernias need to be seen as early as possible and we would work around the clock to ensure we have no long waiting lists. Depending upon workload, we can see patients within days, commonly within two weeks and rarely more than 3 weeks after contacting us. For appointments, just call us. See the Contact Us page for everything you need.
There is, of course, much more detail on the actual pages themselves on this site. Feel free to read whichever pages interest you for more information.
Next: About Us
What is the best hernia hospital in the world? ›
Founded in 1945, Shouldice Hospital is the world's leading centre of excellence in abdominal wall hernia repair. Designed specifically to meet the needs of hernia patients, Shouldice is a fully licensed, 89-bed surgical hospital.What is the most frequent complication of a hernia? ›
Incarceration, obstruction and strangulation are well recognized common complications of hernias.What is the failure rate of hernia surgery? ›
Reports of 90 – 99% success rates are common. Mesh repairs, in many cases, offer a smaller chance of hernia recurrence rate than non-mesh repairs. Unfortunately, some repairs may lead to very high incidence of chronic pain, which can range from 5-15%. The key is to find a surgeon that performs a lot of hernia surgery.What is the gold standard for hernia repair? ›
Inguinal hernioplasty: the gold standard of hernia repair.Is Robotic surgery better for hernia repair? ›
Thanks to innovations in robotic technology, surgeons are able to perform hernia repair surgery through tiny incisions rather than the large incisions associated with traditional open surgery. The result is less damage to surrounding tissues, less pain for the patient and a much quicker recovery—often within days.Is hernia surgery a big deal? ›
Open hernia repair is a major surgery that's performed with the aid of general anesthesia or local anesthesia and sedation. It's done through one or two standard-sized incisions (three to six inches in length) that allow the surgeon to fully visualize and access the problematic area.How many years does hernia mesh last? ›
According to the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), hernia mesh repairs usually last five years. However, each case varies depending on the type of mesh used and other medical complications.What are the long term side effects of a hernia surgery? ›
You will incur additional:
- medical bills,
- lost work time, and.
- pain and suffering.
The pain tends to get worse if you sneeze, cough, lift something heavy or strain. But different types of hernia can cause other symptoms. For example, the most common kind of hernia is inguinal, which happens when your intestine bulges through a weak spot in the muscle that usually holds it all in.Why does hernia surgery hurt so much? ›
Abdominal pain after hernia surgery is caused by injury to your skin, muscles, and nerves during the operation. The extent of the surgery may affect how much pain you have afterwards. Tell your doctor about your hernia pain so that they can help you manage it, our goal is to lessen your suffering.
How do you know if something is wrong after hernia surgery? ›
Mild pain or tenderness may be the only symptoms of hernia mesh failure. In other cases, patients may experience a burning sensation around the surgical site or a bulging area that protrudes through the skin. Bulging may be caused by the mesh dislodging or migrating, which can cause inflammation and pain.Which hernia surgery is best? ›
Some of the patients develop an opinion that “Though laparoscopy is painless, it fails, open surgery is the best for hernias.” Similarly, many patients have an opinion that “Open surgery is a very morbid operation. Do not go for it. Try and get it done laparoscopically”.What is the average recovery time for hernia repair? ›
You should also be able to return to work after 1 or 2 weeks, although you may need more time off if your job involves manual labour. Gentle exercise, such as walking, can help the healing process, but you should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities for about 4 to 6 weeks.How big is the incision for hernia surgery? ›
This incision is usually about 6 to 8cm long. The surgeon then places the lump of fatty tissue or loop of bowel back into your abdomen (tummy). A mesh is placed in the abdominal wall, at the weak spot where the hernia came through, to strengthen it. When the repair is complete, your skin will be sealed with stitches.What is the average hernia settlement? ›
There are cases with less serious and permanent injuries. Our hernia mesh lawyers think the average settlement amounts in these cases will be $70,000 to $80,000 but, again, the more serious cases will have a higher average settlement amount.Which is better mesh or no mesh hernia surgery? ›
Mesh and non‐mesh repairs are effective surgical approaches in treating hernias, each demonstrating benefits in different areas. Compared to non‐mesh repairs, mesh repairs probably reduce the rate of hernia recurrence, and reduce visceral or neurovascular injuries, making mesh repair a common repair approach.How many incisions are made with robotic hernia surgery? ›
During this procedure, the surgeon places three ports, one is 12 mm at the belly button and two 8 mm ports on each side of the lower abdomen. Since the robotic instruments are flexible and wristed, dissection in the ceiling of the anterior abdominal wall where the hernias are can be done with ease.How painful is robotic hernia surgery? ›
Because of robotic technology, many patients experience significantly less pain after surgery and return to normal activity much more quickly. In fact, 90% of our surgical hernia repair patients go home the same day. Robotic hernia surgery can benefit almost anyone.What is the fastest way to recover from hernia surgery? ›
Gentle exercise, such as walking, can help you heal faster. Avoid lifting anything heavy or performing strenuous activities for at least four weeks. Sexual intercourse is permitted when you feel ready—generally, around two to three weeks post-surgery.Will I be the same after hernia surgery? ›
After surgery to repair your hernia, you are likely to have pain for a few days. You may also feel tired and have less energy than normal. This is common. You should feel better after a few days and will probably feel much better in 7 days.
What not to do with a hernia? ›
- Avoid heavy lifting when you can. Lifting puts stress on the groin.
- When you must lift, don't bend over. Lift objects by using the legs, not the back.
- Eat high-fiber foods and drink plenty of water. ...
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
Avoid lifting more than 10 pounds for four weeks and excessive bending or twisting for one to two weeks following surgery. This is to allow healing of the incisions, specifically the fascia (the strongest layer of the abdomen wall) and to decrease the risk of your hernia coming back.How do I know if my hernia mesh is torn years later? ›
Seven common signs and symptoms of hernia mesh failure include bulging, burning, constipation, impotent and sexual dysfunction, nausea, lethargy, and pain. Depending on your injury, you may need to seek removal of the hernia mesh implant or revision surgery.Can I feel the mesh after hernia repair? ›
Because the mesh is on the inside, you will not be able to feel any mesh on the outside of your abdominal wall. Your abdominal pressure holds the mesh in place so that it will not migrate. Mesh is placed on the outside of the abdominal wall in traditional hernia surgery, which we very rarely perform.What are the cons of hernia surgery? ›
Complications that occur in the perioperative period include wound seroma/hematoma, urinary retention, and superficial incisional surgical site infection, while complications that occur later following hernia repair include persistent groin pain, sexual dysfunction, deep incisional/mesh infection, recurrent hernia, and ...What is the quality of life after hernia surgery? ›
Quality of life was satisfactory in 72(81%) and unsatisfactory in 13(14.7%). Conclusion: Hence it is concluded that post operatively patients experienced better physical functioning and emotional role functioning whereas their perceptions about their general health and energy were satisfactory.What hurts after hernia surgery? ›
After a hernia repair procedure, most patients experience some degree of groin pain or discomfort as their incision heals and their body adjusts to the surgical mesh. Post-operative pain, a type of lingering pain that can last up to three months following surgery, usually improves as mesh-related inflammation subsides.Can you live with a hernia for years? ›
Many people are able to delay surgery for months or even years. And some people may never need surgery for a small hernia. If the hernia is small and you don't have any symptoms, or if the symptoms don't bother you much, you and your doctor may simply continue to watch for symptoms to occur.What are the signs of a serious hernia? ›
- A painful bulge that doesn't reduce in size when you lay down and rest.
- Worsening pain.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Difficulty having a bowel movement.
- Racing heart rate.
Absolutely Yes! If your hernia is not causing pain or discomfort – it is possible to live with your hernia. One must remember that there is a risk of an emergency (incarceration or strangulation) from any hernia. A painless hernia typically (but not always) will start causing discomfort prior to an emergency.
Is it better to sit or lay down after hernia surgery? ›
The best sleeping position after umbilical hernia surgery is to sleep flat on your back with your head on a small pillow. This prevents too much pressure on the incision site and allows for comfortable breathing during sleep.What is the best pain relief after hernia surgery? ›
Most patients can take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead of the prescription medicine for pain after hernia surgery. Ibuprofen(Advil) or Naproxen (Aleve) can often be taken in addition to the Tylenol.What is the best pain relief for a hernia? ›
Over-the-counter pain medications can relieve discomfort associated with an inguinal hernia. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen, or naproxen can be taken, depending on individual preference.Can a hernia change bowel movements? ›
Constipation or difficulty having a bowel movement
Any blockage in the large intestine caused by a hernia can cause constipation or difficulty in having a bowel movement as it interferes with digestion. It will also be difficult to pass gas, making you even more uncomfortable.
How long it takes for hernia mesh to heal depends on the type of surgery and the extent of the hernia repair. Most people can expect a full recovery about four to six weeks after the procedure.What is the most common complication of inguinal hernia repair? ›
Recurrence is the most common complication of inguinal hernia repair, causing patients to undergo a second operation. Bleeding. Bleeding inside the incision is another complication of inguinal hernia repair. It can cause severe swelling and bluish discoloration of the skin around the incision.Which is better laparoscopic or open mesh repair for inguinal hernia? ›
For the repair of inguinal hernia, some surgeons favor the laparoscopic approach, while others recommend open repair. While open repair can result in more scar tissue and carries higher risk of testicular and nerve injury, it is much cheaper and has a shorter surgical learning curve compared to laparoscopic repair (6).Which doctor is best for hernia? ›
- Any General Surgeon who successfully performed several Hernia Repair surgeries.
- An experienced Gastroenterologist.
Abdominal wall hernia repair is one of the most common types of surgery. More than 1 million hernia repairs are performed each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and worldwide these surgeries are estimated to top 20 million annually.Is walking good for hernia? ›
After any kind of hernia, walking can help keep your muscles strong and help reduce your risk of complications. This is especially true of surgeries on your abdomen. Walking helps your organs return to their proper place. It also gets your heart pumping, bringing blood to your surgery site, which helps your body heal.
Can you live with a hernia without surgery? ›
Hernias don't go away on their own. Only surgery can repair a hernia. Many people are able to delay surgery for months or even years. And some people may never need surgery for a small hernia.How long is recovery time for hernia surgery? ›
You should also be able to return to work after 1 or 2 weeks, although you may need more time off if your job involves manual labour. Gentle exercise, such as walking, can help the healing process, but you should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities for about 4 to 6 weeks.What are the disadvantages of hernia surgery? ›
Hernia Surgery Risks
Infection of the wound. Blood clots: These can develop because you're under anesthesia and don't move for a long period of time. Pain: In most cases, the area will be sore as you heal. But some people develop chronic, long-lasting pain after surgery for a groin hernia, for example.
Fullington perform (for inguinal, umbilical, and small incisional hernias) is about 2 weeks. Many patients feel well enough to perform normal daily activities – including driving and return to work – after only a couple of days, but we restrict patient activity for 2 weeks to allow for adequate healing.Can you put a heating pad on a hernia? ›
Heating pads will help. Please use heat on the lowest setting, for no more than 15 minutes at a time. It's normal to have pain, swelling, and numbness of the incision and area around it. You may use an ice pack on your incision for 20 minutes, then off for 20 minutes to decrease pain and swelling.
Age should be no bar to elective hernia repair. This policy should avoid the complications of emergency operation.How do you get rid of hernia without surgery? ›
NO, Hernia cannot be treated without surgery. Hernia can be cured only with surgery. The good news is that with advancement in technology, most hernias can now be treated by keyhole surgery using laparoscopy/robotic system. Even incisional and complex hernias can be treated by minimally invasive robotic surgery.Which type of hernia has the highest incarceration risk? ›
For primary hernias, defects in the peri- and infra-umbilical region portrayed a significantly increased odds for incarceration as compared to supra-umbilical defects (OR 1.98, 95% CI 1.02-3.85, p = 0.043). Additionally, in primary hernias age, BMI, and constipation were associated with incarceration.Which hernia is most commonly obstructed? ›
Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia. They happen when abdominal tissue, such as belly fat or a loop of intestines, bulges through an opening in your lower abdominal wall .Which nerve is in danger during hernia repair? ›
During open hernia repair, the ilioinguinal, iliohypogastric, and the genitofemoral nerves are most commonly injured, while the lateral femorocutaneous nerve is more commonly injured during laparoscopic herniorraphy.