Maybe you were lifting something heavy or straining with constipation when you first felt that sharp, searing pain in your groin or abdomen, or perhaps you were just in the midst of a major coughing fit. Initially, you may have thought you only pulled a muscle.
But watching your “pulled muscle” develop into an abnormal bulge — especially if that bulge was achy, heavy, or uncomfortable — may have elevated your level of concern enough to see your doctor, who quickly diagnosed you with a hernia.
As a board-certified general surgeon who specializes in hernia repair at Precision Surgery and Advanced Vein Therapy in Glendale, Arizona, Dr. Johnny Serrano knows that receiving a hernia diagnosis can leave you with plenty of questions and concerns. Here, he offers a few encouraging facts about hernias to help put your mind at ease.
1. Hernias can affect anyone, including babies
A hernia develops when internal tissues push through a weak area or pre-existing opening in the muscles and connective tissues (abdominal wall) that contain them. Hernias have different names depending on where they appear:
- Inguinal hernias occur in the lower abdomen/inner groin
- Femoral hernias develop in the outer groin/upper thigh
- Umbilical hernias appear near the navel (belly button)
- Incisional hernias occur at the site of a surgical incision
- Ventral hernias appear along the midline of the abdomen
A baby can be born with a hernia or pre-existing opening that develops a hernia soon after birth; about 15% of newborns have a congenital hernia, usually umbilical. Adults typically get hernias during a moment of strain that places increased pressure on the abdominal wall.
2. Hernias are common, especially with age
If you have a hernia, you’re in good company: More than one million people in the United States have hernia surgery each year, making hernias one of the most common health issues (and hernia repair one of the most common surgeries).
While obesity, pregnancy, weak core muscles, and a job that involves heavy lifting or hours of standing can increase your risk of getting a hernia, the greatest risk factors are male gender and advancing age.
One in four men develop an inguinal hernia at some point in their life, and one in two people over the age of 50 develop a hiatal hernia, the type that occurs within the chest cavity when the top of the stomach pushes through the bottom of the diaphragm. A hiatal hernia is fully internal and concealed from view.
3. We know exactly how to treat your hernia
When it comes to hernia treatment, there’s no ambiguity. Although we may recommend a period of watchful waiting for very small or mild hernias, at the end of the day, there’s only one way to resolve the problem: surgical repair.
As we’ve already mentioned, U.S. surgeons perform over one million hernia repair operations each year (about 80% are done to repair the most common type, an inguinal hernia). But what makes this singular treatment approach so definitive?
Simply this: A hernia won’t heal on its own, and there’s no non-surgical treatment approach — like medication, noninvasive laser treatment, PRP therapy, or physical therapy — that can improve it, either. The bottom line? Surgical repair is the only way to resolve your hernia, and most hernias require treatment sooner or later.
4. Most hernias can be repaired laparoscopically
In most cases, Dr. Serrano can perform hernia repair using minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques. This advanced surgical approach uses small incisions, specialized tools, and a tiny, high-definition camera to get the job done with minimal healthy tissue disruption, greater surgical precision, quicker post-operative healing with less discomfort, and a faster recovery.
Dr. Serrano also offers another advanced hernia repair option — one he pioneered himself — called ultra-minimally invasive (UMI) surgery. UMI hernia repair is an innovative approach that combines robotics and laparoscopy for superior outcomes. He can help you understand your options (open, minimally invasive, or UMI surgery) after a comprehensive exam and review of your medical history.
5. Specialist care minimizes hernia recurrence risk
While the risk of hernia recurrence following surgical repair depends on several factors, ranging from hernia location and size to patient body weight and health, in most cases, hernia surgery is a curative treatment that puts an end to the problem for good.
So, what’s the best way to reduce your hernia recurrence risk? Seek specialist care from an expert like Dr. Serrano. The statistics are clear: Hernia recurrence is more likely (up to 30% risk) after treatment at a general surgery center, and less likely (lower than 1% risk) after surgery in a specialized center that handles hernia repair procedures on a routine basis.
If hernia repair is in your future, your board-certified general surgeon in Glendale, Arizona, can help. Call 623-321-5663 to learn more about the hernia solutions available at Precision Surgery and Advanced Vein Therapy, or use the easy online booking feature to schedule a visit with Dr. Serrano today.