Hernia – Laparoscopic Repair
This page will provide you with information about a laparoscopic incisional hernia repair. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.
What is an incisional hernia repair?
Your abdominal cavity contains your intestines and other structures. These are protected by your abdominal wall, which is made up of four layers. An incisional hernia is a weakness in your abdominal wall, which happens when previous wounds (from a past operation) do not heal properly. This results in the contents of your abdomen pushing through your abdominal muscles, producing a lump under your skin called a hernia (see figure 1). If left untreated, an incisional hernia can cause serious complications.
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What are the benefits of the procedure?
You should no longer have the hernia. Surgery should prevent serious complications and allow you to return to normal activities.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
While you can sometimes control the hernia with supportive clothing, your condition will not get better. Surgery is the only effective way to cure the condition.
If you choose not to have surgery, the hernia will get larger with time. This can be dangerous because structures within your abdomen can get trapped and have their blood supply cut off (strangulated hernia). This needs an urgent and larger operation.
What can I do to help make the operation a success?
If you smoke, stopping several weeks before the operation may reduce your risk of developing complications.
Maintaining a healthy weight will also reduce the risk developing complications. Regular exercise will help you to recover quicker. Avoid heavy lifting which could make your hernia painful.
What is involved in the operation?
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic. You may also have injections of local anaesthetic to help with the pain after the operation. The procedure usually takes one to two hours. Where possible, your surgeon will use laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery as this considered a less painful method, which will heal quicker and allow you to return to your normal activities sooner.
Your surgeon will make a small cut on or near your umbilicus (belly button) in order to insert an instrument in your abdominal cavity to inflate it with gas (carbon dioxide). They will then make several small cuts on your abdomen. This is in order to insert tubes (ports) into your abdomen, through which they can pass surgical instruments, along with a laparoscope (telescope), so they can see inside your abdomen and perform the operation. After freeing up the structures from your abdomen that are stuck in the hernia, your surgeon will insert a synthetic mesh to cover the weak spot.
Risks and complications
Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home after one to two days after the operation, although your consultant may recommend that you stay a little longer. Your consultant will tell you when you can return to work. Your consultant may tell you not to do any manual work for a while. Do not lift anything heavy for at least six weeks.
Let your healthcare team know if you get a high temperature, notice pus in your wound, or if your wound becomes red, sore or painful. If you become short of breath, feel pain in your chest or upper back, or if you cough up blood, let the healthcare team know straightaway. If you are at home, call an ambulance or go immediately to your nearest Emergency department.
If you notice pain that gets worse over time or is severe when you move, breathe or cough, feel sick or lack any appetite (which gets worse after the first one to two days), have difficulty opening your bowels or notice a swelling of your abdomen you should let your consultant know.
To reduce the risk of a blood clot, make sure you follow carefully the instructions of the healthcare team if you have been given medication or need to wear special stockings. Do not drive until you are confident about controlling your vehicle and always check your insurance policy and with your consultant.
References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.
The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.