Hernias of the groin (inguinal) and umbilicus occur in 5-10% of people. Hernias are usually repaired in an outpatient surgical facility. A hernia develops when there is a defect or weakness in the muscle layers; the hernia sac (bulging area) develops as internal structures push thru the defect toward the skin. Repairs usually involve closing the defect with sutures or a mesh “screen”.
A hernia occurs when an organ or fatty tissue squeezes through a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue called fascia. The most common types of hernia are inguinal (inner groin), incisional (resulting from an incision), femoral (outer groin), umbilical (belly button), and hiatal (upper stomach).
Open Inguinal Hernia Repair
For open hernia repair surgery, a single long incision is made in the groin. If the hernia is bulging out of the abdominal wall (a direct hernia), the bulge is pushed back into place. If the hernia is going down the inguinal canal (indirect), the hernia sac is either pushed back or tied off and removed.
The weak spot in the muscle wall—where the hernia bulges through—traditionally has been repaired by sewing the edges of healthy muscle tissue together (Herniorrhaphy). This is appropriate for smaller hernias that have been present since birth (indirect hernias) and for healthy tissues, where it is possible to use stitches without adding stress on the tissue. But the surgical approach varies depending on the area of muscle wall to be repaired and the surgeon’s preference.
Mesh patches of synthetic material are now being widely used to repair hernias (Hernioplasty). This is especially true for large hernias and for hernias that reoccur. Patches are sewn over the weakened area in the abdominal (belly) wall after the hernia is pushed back into place. The patch decreases the tension on the weakened belly wall, reducing the risk that a hernia will recur.
What To Expect After Surgery
Most people who have open hernia repair surgery are able to go home the same day. Recovery time is about 3 – 4 weeks.
Men and women may have swelling in the pubic area. Wearing a tight fitting garment (like biker shorts or girdle) post operatively will help reduce the swelling.
You most likely can return to light activity after 3 weeks. Strenuous exercise should wait until after 6 weeks of recovery.