A hernia is a weakness that appears in the abdominal wall or diaphragm. It may be present at birth or acquired much later in life. Hernias tend to grow over time as the pressure from the abdomen further exerts pressure on the already defective/weak area. Plastic surgeons or other healthcare professionals often use CT scans or physical examinations to diagnose a hernia. If you or your loved one suffers from this condition, surgeons have several interventions that they can use to provide relief. This post explores hernia repair, types of treatments, cost of surgery, and everything you need to plan your procedure.
Types of hernia
There are several different types of hernia, usually classified based on their cause and location in which they occur:
- Femoral hernia – this type of hernia is usually located in the groin and may be a result of poor wound healing following surgery, straining, or heavy lifting. A femoral hernia may be noticed as a small or medium-sized lump. Roughly 3% of all hernias occurring in the groin area tend to be femoral hernias. Women tend to be more predisposed to this kind of hernia compared to men.
- Incisional hernia – these tend to occur after abdominal surgery, which usually entails an incision running down the middle of the abdominal wall. A hernia will form if the incision site does not heal as it should.
- Inguinal hernia – this is a very common type of hernia that manifests when a part of the intestines or fat from inside the belly bulges via the lower stomach wall. This bulge typically occurs through the inguinal canal that is located in the groin area. In some women, the hernia may contain a part of the female reproductive organs. Statistics suggest that about 27% of men and 3% of women will get this type of hernia in their lifetime.
- Ventral hernia – this type of hernia occurs along the midline of the abdominal wall but is not associated with the umbilicus (belly button).
- Umbilical hernia – in an umbilical hernia, tissue from inside the body will bulge via a weakened area in the belly button. This will cause a visible bulge around the belly button that feels worse when you strain, cough, or are having a bowel movement. The American College of Surgeons says that about 10% of hernias occurring in the abdominal area tend to be umbilical hernias.
Treatments for hernia
Surgery is the most commonly used intervention to alleviate discomfort and prevent the complications associated with hernias. Plastic surgeons have an array of surgical methods that they can use depending on the location of the hernia and the patient’s own preference:
- Traditional hernia repair – traditionally, a surgical mesh is used to provide much-needed reinforcement in the hernia site.
- Laparoscopic hernia repair – this is a minimally invasive hernia repair treatment. This procedure only requires a small incision through which a laparoscope is inserted. Patients will need to be put under general anesthesia in order to increase their comfort level during treatment. The surgery is completed within a few hours and patients are able to go home to continue with recovery.
- Robotic hernia repair – plastic surgeons may also use a surgical robot to execute the hernia repair surgery. Small incisions will be made (similar to those from laparoscopic hernia repair) and used to repair the weakened area.
Hernia no surgery
Many patients want to know whether it is possible to get relief from hernia without the downtime of surgery. Wearing binders, corsets, or trusts can apply gentle pressure on your hernia to keep it in place. These may also alleviate the pain and discomfort but only provide temporary relief. Also, they should be used only under your doctor’s supervision. If you are looking for a permanent end to your hernia surgery, then you most certainly will need to undergo surgical treatment.
How to find the best hernia surgeon
Now that you understand the different types of hernia and various treatment methods that can be used, the next step is to find the right doctor for hernia repair. When doing your research, the first consideration is to check whether the surgeon is board certified by the American Board of Surgery or the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Board certification is a rigorous process that ensures that the surgeon in question is highly qualified and adheres to safety standards. Once you come up with a shortlist of board-certified Hernia surgeons in your city, you also want to schedule consultations with each one of them so you can learn more about the surgeons. Use this consultation visit to understand the surgeon’s unique training, skills, and more so level of experience. Top hernia surgeons inspire confidence and comfort and are able to create a treatment plan that is fully customized to your needs.
What is the cost of hernia surgery?
The cost of hernia repair surgery will vary greatly from one patient to the other depending on factors such as the extensiveness of the procedure, the surgeon’s skill level, and facility fees. Most insurance companies cover hernia surgery if it is deemed to be a medically necessary procedure (which is often the case).