What is an Incisional Hernia?
An incisional hernia, sometimes called a ventral hernia, appears at the site of the scar tissue from a previous abdominal operation. They are caused by previously made surgical incisions where the abdominal wall fails to heal completely. Incisional hernias may result when sutures pull through the tissue, or the scar forming is not strong enough to withstand forces inside the abdomen, which can push through the abdominal wall.
Beverly Hills Hernia Center sees this condition in about 10% of our patients. Incisional hernias can be effectively corrected through hernia surgery at our center with Shirin Towfigh, M.D., F.A.C.S, the only hernia specialist on the West Coast.
Incisional Hernia Symptoms
If you have had a previous abdominal operation, you are at about a 15% risk of eventually getting an incisional hernia. Those more at risk include those with heightened stress on the abdominal wall from pregnancy, excessive weight gain, chronic lung disease, diabetes patients, or those who had wound infection at their incision site.
Some of the incisional hernia symptoms include:
- Pain, a burning sensation, or a feeling of pressure or fullness with or without a bulge in the abdomen near the site of the original surgery, by your scar
- Awareness that you have something present in the scar site that should not be there
- May increase in size and gradually become even more noticeable
- Prolonged periods of physical activity, including standing and lifting objects may increase intensity of symptoms
Incisional Hernia Diagnosis and Treatment Recommendations
Often, Dr. Towfigh can diagnose an incisional hernia upon examination of the area, which usually has a soft bulge underneath or next to the scar site. Generally, no imaging studies are necessary with incisional hernias.
Dr. Towfigh always recommends surgical treatment for the condition, because it will not go away on its own or with nonsurgical treatment. In fact, usually incisional hernias grow over time, and the larger the hernia, the more difficult it is to repair, and it leads to increased risk of hernia recurrence.
Incisional Hernia Repair
Incisional hernia surgery can almost always be repaired with the laparoscopic method with Dr. Towfigh, instead of the open surgery technique. Because it involves smaller incisions to fix the hernia, laparoscopic hernia repair results in less post-operative pain compared to traditional, open surgery. In addition, the recurrence rate of the hernia is less than 7%, compared to 30%+ reported with most open surgeries. Since the early ’90s, incisional hernia repair has been performed laparoscopically with great success rates, because it is more effective at suturing the defect closed, reinforcing the repair with mesh, placing the mesh inside the underside of the abdominal wall, and achieving the best contact of mesh with the abdominal wall.
Incisional Hernia Surgery Recovery
After your hernia operation with Beverly Hills Hernia Center, you will be sent home with prescribed pain medicine. Most patients only have three small punctures where the laparoscopic instruments were inserted, which are closed with surgical adhesive glue that wears off in about a week. The patient will have very small plastic tubes called catheters in the operative site at the end of surgery which pushes local anesthetic into the operative site to reduce pain, which are then painlessly taken out in your first postoperative visit.
Patients are encouraged to walk after surgery, since mild physical activity can help circulation, bowel/respiratory function. Usually patients are able to ease off their painkillers within two weeks, and resume all normal activities. Those who have more physically demanding jobs or workout routines should consult Dr. Towfigh before resuming those activities. Patients are encouraged to call if they experience any complications, such as worsening pain, nausea, vomiting, or any other concerns.
If you think you may have an incisional hernia, call the offices of Beverly Hills Hernia Center to schedule an appointment with Dr. Towfigh by calling 310-358-5020 or visiting our contact page.