What is a recurrent hernia?
A recurrent hernia is a hernia that reappears after hernia repair surgery has been performed. It often appears as a bulge on or near the site of the original hernia. Recurrent hernias can be painful. Hernias can reappear for a number of reasons including:
- An infected wound from the initial hernia surgery
- A chronic cough
- Being too active too soon after surgery.
What are the surgical treatments for a recurrent hernia?
Recurrent hernias can be challenging to repair. There are typically two types of surgical treatment for recurrent hernias. These are:
Laparoscopic recurrent hernia repair. Laparoscopic hernia repair is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that uses a thin tube with a camera and a light (laparoscope). Your surgeon will make several small incisions in your abdomen and insert the laparoscope through one of these incisions. Surgical instruments will be inserted through one of the other incisions, and your hernia will be repaired.
Most laparoscopic hernia repair patients can go home on the same day of treatment and recovery usually takes one to two weeks.
Open recurrent hernia repair. If your recurrent hernia is complex it may be necessary to undergo open surgery. Unlike laparoscopic repair, open surgery involves the surgeon making a single larger incision. Open surgery allows your surgeon to move abdominal tissues to their original position and reinforce both sides of the weakened muscle with mesh. You will probably need to stay in hospital for at least one night. Recovery time is usually around 3 weeks.
Risks and potential complications from recurrent hernia surgery
Surgery for a recurrent hernia is normally very safe, however, there are a number of possible risks and complications. These include:
- Recurrence of hernia
- Nerve injury and chronic pain
- Adverse reaction to anaesthetic medication
- Injury to local structures that run through the groin
Cost of recurrent hernia repair surgery
Hernia repair surgery is performed in both public and private hospitals. If you use a private hospital, a portion of your costs may be covered by your private health insurance. Please contact the Sydney GI Surgery team to discuss your needs and for an accurate assessment of the cost involved.
Recovery from recurrent hernia repair surgery
After your recurrent hernia repair you will need to rest. Your incision may be sore for the first few days and you may be swollen, bruised or numb. You will probably feel tired during the first two weeks of your recovery. Depending on your occupation, you will be ready to return to work anywhere between one to six weeks. Talk to your doctor about your specific situation.
It’s important that you follow your doctor’s instructions around taking care of yourself at home. Generally, you should avoid driving for the first week. You should also avoid strenuous activities such as lifting heavy objects or playing sports for a few weeks.