Hernia - laparoscopic incisional hernia repair

What is an incisional hernia?

Any operation on your abdomen needs a cut that is closed with stitches. Sometimes your wound does not heal properly and a weakness happens in the muscle layer. This results in the contents of your abdomen, along with the inner layer, pushing through your abdominal muscles. This produces a lump under your skin called a hernia.

What are the benefits of surgery?

You should no longer have the hernia. Surgery should prevent serious complications and allow you to return to normal activities.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

You can sometimes control the hernia with supportive clothing or simply leave it alone. It will not get better without surgery.

What does the procedure involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes 1 to 2 hours. Your surgeon will make a small cut on or near your umbilicus (belly button) so they can insert an instrument in your abdominal cavity to inflate it with gas (carbon dioxide). They will make several small cuts on your abdomen so they can insert tubes (ports) into your abdomen. Your surgeon will insert surgical instruments through the ports along with a telescope so they can see inside your abdomen and perform the operation. Your surgeon will free up the structures from your abdomen that are stuck in the hernia, and insert a synthetic mesh to cover the weak spot.

What complications can happen?

Like all surgical procedures, there are some complications that can be serious and can even cause death. Please bear in mind the general and specific complications regarding this type of operation.

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Unsightly scarring of your skin
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Blood clot in your leg
  • Blood clot in your lung

Specific complications of this operation Keyhole surgery complications

  • Damage to structures such as your bowel, bladder or blood vessels
  • Developing a hernia
  • Injury to your bowel
  • Surgical emphysema

Hernia repair complications

  • Developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or fluid (seroma) under your wound
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Injury to structures that come from your abdomen and are within the hernia

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after 1 to 2 days. Increase how much you walk around over the first few days. You may need to take painkillers to help you.

Your doctor will tell you when you can return to work. Do not lift anything heavy for at least 6 weeks. With regular exercise, you should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice. Most people make a full recovery and can return to normal activities. However, the hernia can come back.

Summary

An incisional hernia is a weakness in your abdominal wall, which happens when previous wounds do not heal properly. If left untreated, an incisional hernia can cause serious complications. To find out more, call us on 0808 101 0337.

Acknowledgements

Author: Mr James Catton FRCS

Illustrator: Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com

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