A hernia occurs when an organ pushes, or herniates, through a weak spot in the muscle or tissue holding it in place. It may look like a bulge, and can cause painful symptoms or none at all. Hernias don’t go away on their own, so it’s important to talk with your doctor to learn how it's affecting your health.
Hernia care is just what the doctor ordered
When you’re living with a hernia, you might notice a bulge in your abdomen and feel discomfort during certain activities like lifting objects, laughing or even coughing. Hernias can be painful, but understanding your treatment and recovery doesn’t have to be.
We’ll use a minimally invasive approach to fix your hernia to reduce any side effects and surgical complications. That way, you can return to doing what you enjoy most without a hernia slowing you down.
Most kinds of hernias occur when one of your abdominal organs — like the intestines — slips or pushes through the muscular walls of your abdomen. Hernias can also form in these areas:
- Along an incision from a past surgery
- In the groin
- Near the belly button
- Through the diaphragm
Contrary to popular belief, hernias don’t usually happen when you suddenly lift a heavy object. They most commonly develop over time as our bodies experience natural wear and tear with age. Hernias can also be caused by pregnancy, trauma and surgery.
Hernias don’t go away on their own, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if you notice a bulge in your body or suspect that you may have a hernia.
Types of hernias
Hernias are a fairly common condition, with some types occurring more than others. Our doctors have seen our fair share of hernias, and can help understand if and which one you’re living with.
- Hiatal hernia: The upper part of the stomach bulges through an opening in the diaphragm, which is the sheet of muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen. With this condition, leaking stomach acid can rise into the esophagus.
- Inguinal hernia: Part of an internal organ, like your intestine, bulges through a weak area of muscle in your groin.
- Incisional hernia: This hernia develops along a prior surgical incision in the abdomen.
- Paraesophageal hernia: This uncommon type of hiatal hernia happens when a part of the stomach slips through a hole in the diaphragm and into the esophagus.
- Parastomal hernia: A parastomal hernia happens when part of your abdomen bulges into your stoma. A stoma is a surgically created opening that helps the body eliminate waste.
- Ventral hernia: This hernia occurs when part of your intestine protrudes through the muscles in the front of your abdomen.
As common as hernias are, they cannot heal on their own. Some smaller hernias don’t require immediate treatment, while others need to be acted on quickly. That’s why it’s important to be open with your doctor about how your hernia is impacting your health so we can then plan the best treatment path forward.
The most common approach for truly healing a hernia is with surgery. Depending on your condition, your 2 main surgical options include:
- An "open" procedure where the doctor makes a large incision to treat the hernia
- A laparoscopic procedure where the doctor uses small incisions to treat the hernia
Robotic-assisted surgery uses special robotic tools to repair your hernia and rebuild the abdominal wall. These tools allow us to make tiny, precise movements that aren’t possible with the human hand alone.
We’ll work with you to select the best surgical option given your type of hernia, needs and medical history. Hernia repairs are divided into 2 main categories:
- Mesh repairs: These require a synthetic or biologic patch to be placed over the affected area.
- Primary repairs: These require sewing your abdominal wall tissues back together.
In complex cases, we’ll also work closely with our colleagues in plastic surgery to repair difficult or recurrent hernias.