Hernias can be extraordinarily painful, and they will not go away by themselves. Often visible as bulges under the skin, hernias typically cause sharp pains or dull aches when lifting heavy objects, after prolonged sitting or standing, during urination or bowel movements, or even simply coughing. At Texas Laparoscopic Consultants, we can repair hernias and alleviate your symptoms with laparoscopic hernia surgery. This advanced procedure is designed to effectively treat hernias with minimal incisions, less time needed for recovery, and less visible scarring.
Please contact Dr. Leong for more information on laparoscopic hernia surgery, or to schedule a consultation with one of our surgeons.
What is a Hernia?
When the inside layers of muscles in the abdominal wall are weakened, sometimes this weakening can cause bulge, tear, or hole. When this happens, the inner lining of the abdomen is pushed through the abdominal wall and creates a sac resembling a bubble. This is a hernia condition, and can ultimately be worsened by abdominal tissue or a loop of intestine pushing into the sac, which can be the cause of severe discomfort and lead to very serious complications. If the hernia becomes entrapped or “incarcerated,” trapping the intestine inside the sac and becoming fixed in its position and tender to the touch, it must be urgently treated to avoid becoming a “strangulated” hernia. This condition is characterized by a hernia that has had its blood supply cut off, which can ultimately cause gangrene or ischemia to set in. If this happens, you may be in danger of going into septic shock.
Although they commonly appear in the groin, hernias can manifest in a number of areas, including the belly button, the upper abdomen, and around the location of a previous surgical procedure.
Some hernias are congenital and present from birth until treatment. Others are caused by:
- Strain from lifting heavy objects
- Persistent coughing
- Difficulty during bowel movements
- Difficulty with urination
- Weakness in the abdominal wall since birth
- Heavy strain on the abdominal wall
- Natural process of aging
- A previous surgical incision
Types of Hernias
There are a number of different types of hernias. Whether congenital or caused by other means, hernias can affect men and women of all ages. Types of hernias include:
- Paraesophageal or Hiatal
Hernias will not spontaneously resolve, and they will typically get worse without treatment. There is no known medicinal remedy to repair a hernia; however, surgical treatment has proven very effective. It’s important to note that a “strangulated” hernia is a surgical emergency, and it will only get bigger if left untreated, risking your health and making the operation a more complicated one.
Minimally Invasive Laparoscopic Hernia Repair
It’s estimated that 600,000 operations to repair hernias are performed in the U.S. each year. Of these surgical procedures, many are performed in the traditional “open” method, which often leads to painful and long recovery periods. Dr. Leong can perform minimally invasive laparoscopic hernia repair. In most cases, this procedure is performed under general anesthesia; however, some patients may be eligible for spinal anesthesia or local anesthesia during the operation.
Benefits of Laparoscopic Surgery
Laparoscopic hernia repair is beneficial to patients in a variety of ways, including:
- Less time necessary in surgery
- Less pain and discomfort during recovery
- Reduced recovery period
- Less visible scarring
The Laparoscopic Procedure
Laparoscopic hernia repair involves the insertion of a small camera through a tiny incision under the belly button. This camera relays images to a video monitor, giving our surgeon a clear view of the surgical area. Small surgical instruments are introduced into the area of the hernia, and are then used to reduce its contents. The hernia is then encased in a “mesh” (synthetic material) to reinforce the repair and prevent a recurrence. The incisions are then closed.
Candidates for Hernia Treatment
Our surgeon will give you a thorough examination to determine whether you are a candidate for laparoscopic hernia repair. In a small number of cases, laparoscopic surgery may not be the best option. Our surgeon will talk with you about all aspects of the procedure and discuss alternatives with you if it is decided that this may not be the best treatment option for your needs.
What to Expect after Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery
When compared with the “open” surgical approach, laparoscopic hernia surgery typically results in a minimal recovery period. You can expect some soreness in the days following the procedure; however, any pain can be alleviated with medication. You will be advised to begin walking around one day after surgery. In a very short amount of time, you should be able to resume normal daily activities. If you experience fever, drainage from the incision, or the inability to urinate, please call your surgeon immediately. You should also call your surgeon if you are experiencing continued soreness and the prescribed medications are not having a significant effect on pain. A follow-up appointment to check on your progress should be scheduled within two weeks of your surgery.
Risks of Minimally Invasive Laparoscopic Hernia Suregery
As with any surgical procedure, laparoscopic hernia repair does involve some degree of risk. These include:
- Injury to the intestines, urinary bladder, nerves, sperm tube
- Hernia recurrence
- Difficulty urinating after surgery, possibly requiring a temporary urinary bladder tube