Do You Need Hernia Surgery?

Two low-risk, minimally invasive options
man holding his stomach

Have you been told you need hernia surgery? Don’t worry. Most hernia surgeries today are done on an out-patient basis, and are minimally invasive and low-risk. Surgeon Diya Alaedeen, MD, FACS, Director of the Hernia Center at Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease Institute, says hernia surgery is “very common, and risks are very minimal.”

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With both types of hernia surgeries, open repair and laparoscopic, you can expect to recuperate within a few days — sometimes even quicker — and get back to normal activities within a few weeks.

A hernia occurs when the inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened inside layers of the abdominal wall, forming a bulge. This bulge often gets bigger over time. If you let it go, you may end up experiencing abdominal pain and discomfort with constipation, nausea and vomiting. It could also lead to other, more serious health problems.

You and your surgeon will decide if open repair or laparoscopic surgery is right for you. “No one size fits all,” says Dr. Alaedeen. “We tailor each surgery specifically for each patient.”

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Types of surgeries

Open repair — In an open repair surgery, the surgeon makes an incision and pushes the hernia back into place behind the muscle wall. The wall is then reinforced with stitches or synthetic mesh. Because of an open repair’s larger incision, recovery time may be a little longer than for laparoscopic due to normal post-surgical pain or discomfort. Medication can relieve these symptoms.

Open repair may be a good option for more active patients because it strengthens the abdominal area. “An open repair brings muscles back together,” says Dr. Alaedeen, “and gives better functionality to the abdominal wall.”

Laparoscopic — In laparoscopic surgery, a telescope-like camera called a laparoscope is inserted through a few tiny incisions in the abdomen. The abdomen is inflated with gas (carbon dioxide) to view the site, and the surgeon attaches a mesh patch to reinforce the weakened area.

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Post-surgical marks are minimal, and within a few months barely visible. Recovery time can be very short, sometimes within 12 hours, says Dr. Alaedeen. Laparoscopic surgery may be a good option if you’re concerned about recovery time as well as about the appearance of the area after surgery.

Whether you go open repair or laparoscopic, know that both procedures are extremely common. And, as Dr. Alaedeen says, “We do the operation that fits you best.”

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