Hernias are a fairly common medical problem, affecting both adults and kids. If your hernia isn’t causing any symptoms, it’s tempting to think it’s OK to ignore it.
But unfortunately, hernias don’t go away on their own, and they can’t be treated with medication. Instead, surgical repair is required. In fact, every year, more than a million Americans have surgery to repair a hernia and prevent more serious problems.
As a leading surgical practice in Las Vegas, Nevada, Desert West Surgery offers hernia surgery using either minimally invasive techniques or a more traditional “open” approach. In this post, our team explains the basics about hernias and why prompt treatment is critically important for your health and your quality of life.
How hernias happen
A hernia is a weak spot in a muscle wall that allows an organ or underlying tissue to push through or protrude. Those weak spots can happen for various reasons, including:
- Age-related tissue degeneration
- Overexertion or strenuous activity (like heavy lifting)
- Chronic constipation and straining to move your bowels
- Chronic coughing
- Weakness around a surgical incision
- Traumatic injury
Some women develop hernias during pregnancy or afterward due to the strain of labor and delivery.
Depending on where the hernia occurs and what part of your body is affected, there are different types of hernias. The most common types include:
- Inguinal hernias that form in the inner groin area
- Femoral hernias that happen in the outer groin area
- Incisional hernias that develop around a surgical incision
- Umbilical hernias that form near your belly button
While these hernias can protrude outward and become visible, you can also develop an internal hernia called a hiatal hernia. These hernias happen when the stomach protrudes through the wall of the diaphragm muscle.
Symptoms to look for
Many hernias cause an unusual bulge that you can see under your skin. This bulge happens when the organ or tissue has pushed through the muscle wall.
The bulge may always be present or appear only when you strain, laugh, or cough. Pressing the bulge causes pain, and many hernias cause pain even when a bulge is not visible.
Hiatal hernias cause different symptoms. Because they’re located in the deeper areas of your body, you can’t see the bulge. Instead, you’ll have symptoms like frequent heartburn and acid reflux.
Why hernias require medical treatment
Unfortunately, hernias cannot heal independently, and every hernia needs to be medically evaluated. Even if your hernia isn’t causing symptoms, you still need to have an evaluation to determine the type of hernia you have, its severity, and the best way to manage it.
If you have a mild hernia, it's OK to wait before repairing it. But hernias tend to get worse over time, and ultimately, every hernia needs surgical intervention to prevent serious complications.
Hernia strangulation is one serious compilation that can quickly become life-threatening. This problem happens when the hole surrounding the protruding organ or tissue cuts off the blood supply, causing tissue death.
Repairing your hernia
Surgical repair involves moving the protruding tissue back into its normal place, then closing the hole in the weak muscle wall. Often, a surgical mesh is placed over the weak spot to prevent the hernia from recurring.
Surgery can be performed using either a minimally invasive approach or an open technique. While open surgery involves a larger incision, minimally invasive surgery uses 2-3 tiny incisions and a special instrument to access and repair the hernia. Our team will determine the optimal method for your repair based on the location, severity, and type of hernia, along with other factors.
Have your hernia evaluated
Although it would be great if a hernia would disappear with a little TLC, unfortunately, that’s not the case. All hernias need to be evaluated, and most need prompt treatment to prevent complications.
If you have a hernia or suspect you do, call Desert West Surgery today and schedule a visit at the Las Vegas location nearest you.