What is a Mesh Repair?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A mesh repair is a surgical technique for treating hernia or prolapse where a specialized mesh provides support at the surgical site both to fix the issue and prevent recurrence of the problem. A surgeon can treat issues like abdominal hernias and vaginal prolapse with mesh repair if a patient appears to be a good candidate for it. Success rates are high with this method, and patients are less likely to experience a second hernia or prolapse, in addition to healing more quickly than with conventional hernia repair techniques.

Small pieces of mesh material may be inserted into the abdominal wall to treat a hernia.
Small pieces of mesh material may be inserted into the abdominal wall to treat a hernia.

In a mesh repair, a surgeon can make an open incision or proceed laparoscopically. In either case, the surgeon inspects the site to check for problems like dead or damaged tissue before carefully replacing structures that have moved. Rather than using stitches at the surgical site to repair torn and damaged muscles with the goal of keeping tissues in place, the surgeon places mesh. The mesh acts as a barrier and will also provide structural support, allowing tissue to grow over it as the patient heals and repairing the site of the herniation or prolapse.

Laparoscopic surgery is less invasive, allowing for a quicker recovery with less chance of complications.
Laparoscopic surgery is less invasive, allowing for a quicker recovery with less chance of complications.

One advantage to mesh repair is its tension-free nature. Historically, for something like an abdominal hernia repair, the surgeon would push the abdominal contents back into place and then stitch the abdominal wall closed. The muscles would be under tension because of the stitches, and the site might rupture, especially if the patient strained it. In a mesh repair, the mesh closes the opening and provides support, with no muscle tension.

With a mesh repair, patients tend to recover more quickly and can resume normal activities sooner than with conventional repairs. The flexible mesh allows the patient to move freely. As tissue grows around it, it will integrate into the patient's body and provide more support at the weak spot, reducing the chance of another herniation or prolapse. When it is possible to offer laparoscopic surgery, healing at the surgical site is very fast, as it consists of a few small incisions rather than a large wound.

Potential complications of mesh repair can include infection, inflammation, or rupture at the site. Even with excellent surgical care, sometimes mesh moves or a hernia recurs, requiring another surgery to address the problem. Occasionally, a company may issue a recall for mesh if it fails to perform adequately in patients. If this happens, the patient likely will undergo another procedure to remove the defective mesh, or more intensive follow-up to check for the earliest signs of recurrence so the surgeon can take the mesh out if it fails.

Obese individuals may be at increased risk for developing a hernia.
Obese individuals may be at increased risk for developing a hernia.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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