Incisional hernias are common. If you have had abdominal surgery in the past, you may develop an incisional hernia after. Experts estimate that anywhere from 12 to 15% of abdominal surgeries eventually lead to incisional hernias.

What is an Incisional Hernia?

An Incisional hernia is a type of hernia that can occur at the site of an incision for a previous surgery. It is different from a ventral hernia, which occurs at the same natural weakening in the abdominal wall. Incisional hernias typically get larger over time. These hernias must be repaired to eliminate the risk of dangerous strangulation. A strangulation can occur when tissue from inside your abdomen gets caught inside the hernia. This can cut off the blood flow and lead to tissue death. If tissue becomes strangulated, the hernia must be repaired immediately to prevent potentially deadly complications.

Causes of an Incisional Hernia

It is not yet known what makes some people more susceptible to incisional hernias than others. They can occur months or years after the original surgery. Risk factors that can increase your chances of an incisional hernia include:

  • advanced age
  • obesity or being overweight. Gaining weight after surgery can increase your risk
  • using steroid medications
  • lung problems
  • infected wounds after surgery
  • having had more than one surgery that uses the same incision
  • a history that involves multiple abdominal surgeries

Symptoms of an Incisional Hernia

Many incisional hernias never cause any symptoms. This is most common when an incisional hernia is small and not in an area that is subject to high amounts of pressure.

The most common symptom of a hernia is a bulge along the incision. This bulge may go away when you lie down. You may be able to push it back into your abdomen. You may feel a pain that gets worse when you stand for long periods of time or attempt to lift heavy objects.

Diagnosing an incisional hernia

In some cases, an incisional hernia can be diagnosed using a simple physical exam, as the bulge will be easily seen. In some cases, ultrasound or another imaging test may be ordered to confirm a diagnosis.

Incisional Hernia treatment

In some cases, an incisional hernia that is small and is not causing any symptoms may be left untreated. Your doctor may wish to monitor a hernia to see if it becomes larger over time.

If a hernia is large, is steadily growing or is causing pain that interferes with everyday activities, surgical repair with typically be recommended.

Hernia repair surgery can be performed as open surgery or laparoscopic surgery. Typically, a surgical grade mesh is inserted and used to seal a hernia.

Hernia surgery can often be performed on an outpatient basis. You'll have your surgery in one of our comfortable surgical centers and then recuperate at home where you can relax.

Depending on your current level of health, the size and location of a hernia and other factors, recovery may take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. You should take it easy after surgery and gradually return to your everyday activities.

Hernia repair surgery becomes an emergency if tissue from inside your abdomen, such as part of your intestine, becomes strangulated. By having hernia surgery before this occurs, you can choose the time of your surgery and the surgical team who makes you most comfortable. Have you been diagnosed with an incisional hernia? Contact us for a consultation to discuss your hernia repair options.