What is an abdominal wall hernia?
An abdominal wall hernia occurs when a weakness in the abdominal wall allows fat or intestines from the abdominal cavity to push through and cause a visible lump or bump. Abdominal wall hernias can be painful. If left untreated, the split in the abdominal wall widens. In some cases, abdominal wall hernias can lead to serious and life-threatening complications.
Several different types of hernias can occur in the abdominal wall. These include:
Epigastric Hernia: A small hernia that occurs in the middle of the belly, usually between the belly button and the breastbone.
Incisional Hernia: A hernia that occurs at the site of previous surgery.
Spigelian Hernia: A small hernia that occurs deep in the abdominal muscles. These hernias do not always present as a bulge or lump, and can go undetected.
Umbilical Hernia: A hernia that occurs near the belly button. These hernias are common in infants and often heal on their own. Umbilical hernias can also occur in adults especially those who are experiencing pregnancy, obesity, chronic coughing or ongoing constipation.
Why do I need abdominal wall hernia surgery?
Your surgeon will talk to you in detail about your hernia and what the best course of action is likely to be. With the exception of some umbilical hernias in infants, surgery is the only effective way to repair a hernia. Typically, abdominal wall hernia surgery aims to relieve pain and resolve hernia symptoms such as a bulging lump, digestive upsets, and a heavy or uncomfortable feeling in the gut.
What happens during abdominal wall hernia surgery?
A number of different surgical procedures are used for abdominal wall hernias and your doctor will talk to you about what is best for you.
Some hernias can be repaired laparoscopically using a thin instrument known as a laparoscope. This type of surgery is minimally invasive and eliminates the need for large abdominal incisions.
Alternatively, your surgeon may recommend using an open surgery technique that involves a larger singular incision and provides better access to the abdominal wall weakness.
In both surgeries, the aim is to repair your abdominal wall and reinforce it to prevent another hernia. In some instances, hernias do reappear and require additional surgery to correct them.
Risks and potential complications of abdominal wall hernia surgery
Risks and complications of abdominal wall hernia surgery include:
- Mesh related complications
- Hernia recurrence
- Fluid collection (seroma)
What is the cost of abdominal wall hernia surgery?
Abdominal wall hernia surgery is an elective procedure that in Australia is currently performed mainly in private hospitals. A portion of the cost for your surgery may be covered by your private health insurance and you should discuss this with your provider.
Please contact the Sydney GI Surgery team to discuss your needs and for an accurate assessment of the cost involved.
Recovery from abdominal wall hernia surgery
It’s common to feel tired and sore after hernia repair surgery. Most people feel well enough to return to work after one to two weeks, however, you will need to avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for around six weeks. You should avoid driving and operating machinery for at least one week after surgery.