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Ventral Hernias

What are ventral hernias?

A ventral hernia is fatty tissue or bowel that protrudes through a hole or defect in the abdominal wall muscles, often creating a bulge. A ventral hernia can occur anywhere on the abdomen. The name depends on the location of the hernia (i.e., umbilical hernias occur near the belly button).

Some people are prone to hernias due to genetic weakness in the abdominal wall. Other people acquire hernias through lifting, strain of the abdominal wall, or obesity.

What are the symptoms?

  • Abdominal pain
  • A “bulge” that is often tender to touch
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting

How is it diagnosed?

Doctors use a physical exam and may use imaging studies, such as an ultrasound or a CT scan, to make a diagnosis. 

Why should I get my hernia surgically repaired?

At present, the only treatment for a hernia is surgery. In addition to causing pain, they can trap, wrap around, or “strangle” part of the intestine, reducing the blood supply to the intestines. If left untreated this would lead to severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and bowel obstruction and would require emergency surgery.

What is the surgical treatment?

Our surgeons are experienced in minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery techniques using small incisions. This method allows for:

  • Faster recovery time
  • Decreased risk of infection
  • Less postoperative pain
  • A shorter hospital stay

We use laparoscopic tools to develop small tunnels between the skin and the muscle to release the tension in the abdomen. We use sutures, mesh, or both to reinforce and repair the abdominal wall.

If your condition doesn’t allow for a laparoscopic procedure, your surgeon will need to make a larger abdominal incision. You and your surgeon will discuss the best treatment option for you. 

What can I expect after surgery?

Depending on the complexity of the hernia, patients may go home the day of surgery or require a short hospital stay.

When you go home:

  • Wear a binder around your abdomen for support and pain control
  • You may have a pressure dressing over your incisions for two weeks
  • Take pain relievers as prescribed by your surgeon
  • If you had general anesthesia, no driving for 24 hours 
  • Return to driving and work within a week if you are off pain medication and follow the lifting restriction
  • Heavy lifting and strenuous activities should be avoided for the length of time recommended by the surgeon
  • Follow up with the surgeon in two to three weeks to plan a return to normal activities
  • You and your surgeon will discuss any specific recovery instructions.

Contact us

Call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 or request an appointment to learn more about hernia services.

For follow-up questions related to your hernia care, contact the Comprehensive’s Hernia Center’s Clinical Coordinator, Jennifer Somers at (412) 578-4215 or at jennifer.somers@ahn.org.

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