Hernia Surgery

Is Hernia Surgery Painful?

woman clenching abdomen with both hands

Hernias, especially the inguinal kind – those that occur in the groin – are very common. It is estimated that approximately 25% of all men will develop an inguinal hernia over their lifetimes. However, only a fraction of these hernias will ever be found. This is because not all hernias present with symptoms, and even if an asymptomatic hernia is discovered incidentally, it does not necessarily require treatment.

Many patients who have the option of alternately undergoing a hernia procedure or waiting to have surgery are concerned about the pain associated with the process. To understand more, we must discuss a few concepts, including why patients would experience pain during or after hernia surgery and what patients should consider when proceeding with hernia surgery.

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How Can I Avoid Hernia Surgery?

woman holds her abdomen hoping she can avoid hernia surgery with recommendations from a hernia expert

If you’ve done any research on hernias, you know that they are a progressive disorder which means that they get worse over time. While hernias may stay the same or get worse, they do not resolve themselves without surgical intervention. However, there are times when hernia surgery may not be indicated or can be postponed. You can determine this after a consultation with your hernia surgeon.

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Hernia Mesh – Truths and Myths

Surgeon reaching for a piece of hernia mesh to repair an abdominal hernia is Jacksonville, FL

Hernia mesh can be a touchy subject for some. To be sure, there has been some controversy over the use of hernia mesh, even though it represents one of the biggest advances in hernia repair technology. In fact, mesh makes for a much more reliable hernia closure and longer-term repair than traditional tension repairs, which typically have a far higher rate of recurrence. As a result, most hernias today are repaired with mesh.

With that said, there’s still a lot to discuss about hernia mesh, and in this article, we want to separate the truths from the myths.

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What Are the Chances of a Recurrent Hernia?

You might be researching hernia surgery, or you may have recently had it and you’re wondering what are the chances that the procedure fails due to recurrence. Recurrence of a hernia means the reemergence of the hernia after it has been repaired surgically. Naturally, our patients are interested to know if their hernia can recur and how it can be prevented.

The short answer is yes, a hernia can come back, but it’s not something to actively worry about. Modern hernia surgery has reduced the recurrence rate to somewhere between 1% and 3%, down from 15% or even more just a few decades ago. But, in order to assess the risk of developing a recurrent hernia, we have to understand how to prevent one.

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Is It Dangerous to Have a Hernia Repaired At Advanced Age?

Deciding whether to repair a hernia in patients of advanced age requires a back-and-forth discussion with your surgeon as well as a thorough examination of the particular circumstances involved. Until recently, the belief was that a patient gets older, hernia repair becomes less necessary and beneficial. To some degree, this still remains true for a couple of reasons:

  • First, older patients tend to have weaker abdominal muscles, which reduces the likelihood of incarceration or strangulation. These are the two biggest considerations when deciding whether or not to have a hernia surgery.
  • Second, older patients typically have a harder time recovering from a surgical procedure and often have a higher risk profile that younger patients, due to their age.

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Do All Hernia Patients Require Surgery?

Hernias can occur at any age and are due to a number of factors. However, as we age and the muscle tissue in our bodies begins to degrade, we are more likely to develop a hernia. While having hernia surgery is typically recommended for young, otherwise healthy patients, the decision whether to have hernia surgery becomes less clear as a patient gets older. This is for a number of important reasons, some of which will be discussed here.

Man in gray sweater holds pressure against lower abdominal hernia may need hernia repair. MASJax logo at top center.

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Can You Wait for Hernia Surgery?

Hernias do not always present with obvious signs or symptoms and many patients will live for decades, or even their entire lives not knowing they have a hernia. Because of the relatively low risk of strangulation, we do not actively screen for asymptomatic hernias and only consider hernia surgery once they become symptomatic.

Man in white tee shirt holds pressure on abdomen to support his hernia while he waits for hernia repair surgery. MASJax logo at top center.

However, symptomatic hernia may cause interference with lifestyle pursuits and this is the best indication for corrective surgery. Interestingly, the relationship between the size of the hernia and the pain that it causes is not linear. In other words, small hernias may be very painful while large hernias may not be. So, whether or not a patient should have surgery is more a result of the kind of hernia and its symptoms versus its size.

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