A hernia can occur anywhere on your abdominal wall, but most appear in the lower abdomen, or groin. Known as an inguinal hernia, this small, painless lump can quickly become a large, uncomfortable bulge that causes shooting pain every time you cough, bend, or lift something heavy.
Because inguinal hernias can’t heal on their own or with conservative care — and because they can lead to dangerous complications — surgical repair is almost always recommended.
Here at Precision Surgery and Advanced Vein Therapy, board-certified general surgeon Johnny L. Serrano, DO, FACOS, takes a minimally invasive approach to hernia repair that aims to correct the problem with the least amount of disruption.
Let’s explore how advanced laparoscopic techniques simplify hernia repair surgery and make post-surgical healing and recovery a whole lot easier.
Hernia repair surgery basics
The muscles and connective tissues that form your abdominal wall help stabilize your core and keep your internal organs in place. When part of that wall separates, opens, or becomes weak, however, underlying tissues can poke through and develop into a bulging hernia.
As one of the most common surgeries in the United States, hernia repair accounts for more than a million operations each year. Approximately four in five hernia repair surgeries (80% of all hernia procedures) are done to correct an inguinal hernia near the groin.
Repairing a bulging hernia means mending and reinforcing any weak or damaged tissue in the abdominal wall. In over 90% of hernia repair procedures, internal sutures and surgical mesh are combined to restore and fortify the abdomen; internal sutures are used as the sole closure in less than 10% of surgeries.
Using surgical mesh along with internal sutures to repair a hernia is associated with shorter operating time, a faster recovery, reduced risk of recurrence, and a better overall outcome.
Comparing surgical repair options
Before the development of minimally invasive surgical techniques, all hernias were repaired via conventional open surgery. While some hernias are still repaired this way, laparoscopic surgery has quickly become the hernia repair method of choice. See how the two methods compare:
Open hernia repair is a major surgery that’s performed with the aid of general anesthesia or local anesthesia and sedation. It’s done through one or two standard-sized incisions (three to six inches in length) that allow the surgeon to fully visualize and access the problematic area.
During an open repair, Dr. Serrano gently repositions the protruding bulge (usually fatty tissue or part of your small intestines) behind your abdominal wall, sews the weakened or separated area and reinforces it with surgical mesh, and then closes your incision with stitches, staples, or surgical glue.
Because conventional hernia repair disrupts a significant amount of tissue to get the job done, post-operative healing can take several weeks. Strenuous activities should be avoided for at least a month as your body recovers.
Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery makes it possible to repair a hernia without inflicting too much trauma on nearby tissues — instead of using one or two standard-sized incisions, this advanced approach uses three or four tiny incisions (each no longer than half an inch) to offer full visualization and access.
While these “micro-incisions” are too small to provide an “open” surgical view, Dr. Serrano can achieve optimal visualization — and an exceptionally high degree of precision — by inserting a tiny laparoscopic camera through one of the incisions.
The camera provides a magnified, high-resolution, three-dimensional, live-stream view of your abdominal wall to a high-definition monitor. Dr. Serrano is guided by the image on the monitor as he inserts specialized small-scale instruments through the other tiny incisions and expertly repairs and reinforces the area with sutures and surgical mesh.
Once the repair is complete, Dr. Serrano closes the incisions with a bit of surgical tape or a couple of stitches. Residual scars should barely be perceptible within a few months.
Even though it’s aided by general anesthesia, laparoscopic surgery feels more like an outpatient procedure than a major surgery. And because it’s far less traumatic for your body tissues, you can expect to heal, recover, and return to normal activities a lot quicker.
Personalized care you can trust
Whenever possible, Dr. Serrano uses minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques to perform hernia repair surgery. But if certain factors make you a better candidate for open surgery, he’s an expert in conventional hernia repair, too.
To learn more about the hernia repair options at Precision Surgery and Advanced Vein Therapy, call our Glendale, Arizona, office at 602-393-1304 today. You can also click online to schedule a visit with Dr. Serrano any time.