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Laparoscopic Incisional Hernia Repairs

What is an incisional hernia?

An incisional hernia develops from a weakness in the wall of your abdomen, caused by previous wounds not healing. This form of hernia can cause serious complications if left untreated. If the abdominal contents and the inner layer push through the muscle layer, this forms a lump under the skin known as a hernia.

How do they happen?

The abdominal wall protects your abdominal cavity, containing your intestines and other structures. The wall consists of four layers: the inner membrane, the second muscle wall, the third layer of fat, and finally, the outside layer of skin. When you undergo surgery on the abdominal area, it will require an incision that is then stitched shut. If the wound does not heal correctly it can form a weak area in the muscle wall and form a hernia.

What are the benefits of incisional hernia surgery?

If you undergo surgery you will not have the hernia any more, neither will you have the associated serious complications.

Are there alternatives?

If you leave the hernia it will not improve without surgical intervention. It is possible to control the hernia with supportive clothing but this will not cure the condition, surgery is the only dependable way of doing so. 

What happens if I decide to leave the hernia alone?

If a hernia is left untreated, it can develop into a much more serious version called a strangulated hernia. Here the intestines or inner structures can become trapped and the blood supply will be severely limited, even cut off altogether. If this happens, an urgent operation will be required, with a greater risk of serious complications developing. If the strangulated hernia is not treated, it might result in death.

What happens during the operation?

During the procedure, the surgeon will use keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery. The benefits of this form of surgery include less pain, scarring, and a quicker return to normal activities. The surgeon will insert an instrument into the abdominal cavity, and make a small incisions around your abdomen. A telescope and other surgical instruments will be inserted, so that the surgeon can see inside the abdomen and perform the procedure effectively. Once the surgeon had released the inner structures that are held up in the hernia, they will cover the weak area with a synthetic mesh. Once finished, the instruments will be removed and the cuts closed by the surgeon.

Recovery

Most patients are able to go home in one to four days following this procedure. You will be advised to slowly increase physical activity each day following the operation and your GP or healthcare team will be able to let you know when you may return to work. This can vary from person to person depending on the extent of your operation and the nature of your work.

Exercise is thought to help speed recovery, but it is important to seek advice before you start.

References:  

EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this page is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare. The information should not replace advice that your relevant consultant would give you.

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