While it would be wonderful if there were many types of hernia repair options, surgery is currently the only choice. There are some bindings and trusses a person may wear before surgery, but these things serve only to hold a hernia back and help to prevent it from getting worse. They don’t actually repair the hernia.
There are two types of operations that are used for hernia repair. One type is called open surgery, and it is considered the most invasive. For this surgery, the doctor cleans the area around the hernia and then creates an incision close to it. The sac containing the herniated tissue is then opened, and the tissue is pushed back into place. The doctor then begins to sew the weakened tissue that allowed the hernia to form, and he may use synthetic mesh to reinforce the area before closing the incision.
The other type of hernia is called laparoscopic surgery. For this type of surgery, two to five small incisions are made near the herniated tissue. Then, a tiny scope with a small camera attached, called a laparoscope, is inserted into the patient’s body through one of the small incisions. This allows the doctor to see the hernia. Instruments are then inserted through the other incisions, and the doctor completes the rest of the hernia repair in a similar fashion to the open surgical technique.
No matter which type of hernia repair is used, some sort of anesthesia is necessary to prevent the patient from feeling pain during the procedure. One type of anesthesia is called general anesthesia; it involves using an anesthetic to render the patient unconscious for the duration of the surgery. Local anesthesia is an option that numbs the area right around the hernia. Sometimes epidurals and spinal taps are used as well, and both of these prevent the patient from feeling pain over a larger portion of his body. The preferred anesthesia for a hernia repair surgery may be chosen on a case-by-cases basis, depending on the health and preferences of the patient and the evaluation of his doctor.
As with all operations, a patient takes on some risk when agreeing to undergo hernia repair; it is possible for complications to arise during or after the surgery. For example, blood clots may develop in the lungs, or a person may develop an infection in his incision. Some people may also have unpleasant or even harmful reactions to the anesthesia. Also, a hernia may become strangulated, which is a dangerous medical situation. For this reason, many doctors recommend repairing hernias, even when the patient isn’t experiencing unpleasant symptoms.