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What is a Hernia?

A hernia happens when tissue from inside the body pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles, coming through to the front of the body under the skin. Hernias happen most often in the groin area. Some hernias are extremely painful, and some feel numb or do not hurt at all. While most hernias are not an emergency, all hernias require surgery to move the tissue back into the correct place and reinforce the muscle wall.

Hernia surgery can be performed as open surgery, where an incision is made directly over the hernia, or laparoscopically, where several small incisions are made and the surgery is performed using very small tools and cameras in thin flexible tubes. The surgeon simply places the herniated tissue back into place and closes up the muscle. Small hernias may be only sutured or stapled closed, while larger hernias may be reinforced with mesh to prevent future hernias. A hernia surgery is called herniorraphy and a hernia surgery with implanted mesh is called hernioplasty.

Unless a hernia is very large or there are surgical complications, most patients go home from the hospital the same day as their surgery. You will be given specific instructions on how to care for your surgical wound by your medical team. In general, it takes a few days to be back on your feet and two to three weeks to fully recover from hernia surgery. After hernia surgery, it is important to drink lots of water and eat high fiber foods to prevent straining during bowel movements, which may cause pain and pressure at the hernia site. It’s also important to refrain from heavy lifting for several weeks in order to protect the abdominal muscles until they fully heal.