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This document provides information on open incisional hernia repair. If you need further details, contact your GP or a relevant healthcare professional.
An operation in the abdominal area will require an incision to be closed with stitches. On occasion, these incisions may not heal properly and the abdominal muscle can become weak in this particular area, allowing internal organs and structures to push through. The resulting lump is known as a hernia (see figure 1).
An incisional hernia
Hernias can become dangerous if left untreated. The contents of your abdomen can become damaged where the protrusion occurs and a strangulated hernia can mean that the blood supply gets cut off from these internal structures.
Surgery is the only way to effectively repair a hernia and ensure that more serious complications do not arise. Although you can protect and control the hernia using padded and supportive clothing, it will not improve without surgery.
An appropriate anaesthetic will be administered depending on your specific circumstances so that you are unable to feel a thing. The surgeon will make an incision over the site of the previous scar and repair the weakened muscle with a synthetic mesh or stitches. The wound will then be closed using stitches. You can expect this operation to last around 90 minutes.
As in any medical procedure there is always the potential for complications to occur. General risks associated with this procedure include: pain; infection; blood clots; bleeding; and scarring. More specific complications that could occur include: a lump forming beneath the wound; problems urinating; necrosis; damage to internal structures within the hernia; nerve damage; and the removal of the umbilicus or belly button.
After this operation you can expect to head home in around one to four days. You will need to slowly increase the amount of movement and walking you do in the days following your operation to ensure you give your body a chance to heal properly and minimise the risk of the hernia returning. Your healthcare team or GP will be on hand to advise you of when you may return to work. Regular exercise can can help you resume your normal activity levels but seek advice before you begin.
Incisional hernias can occur due to weakness in the abdominal muscle. Surgery is required to avoid potentially serious complications.
References: EIDO Healthcare Limited - The operation and treatment 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.