Hernias are caused by too much strain being put on a weak area of the abdominal muscle, pushing part of the intestine through. The most common place for adult hernias is in the inguinal ligament, the lower region of the abdominal wall. A hernia will feel like a small balloon pushing against the skin. There is a chance that the intestine will get stuck, or even twist, possibly causing a very serious blockage. For that reason, it is important to get hernias repaired.
A hernia operation is a short, routine surgery, usually only lasting an hour or two. During the surgery, the hernia will be pushed back into the abdominal cavity, and the weakened wall muscle will be repaired. Before the surgery, patients are asked to fast for a certain length of time, to allow the intestines a chance to clear, making the surgery easier. When patients get to the hospital, their blood pressure will be checked, and they will go through a series of tests to make sure they are healthy and able to have the hernia operation.
Before the surgery, patients are given anesthesia to prevent pain. There are three possible types of anesthesia that may be administered. The most common is general anesthesia, where patients are sleeping through the procedure. The other alternatives are local anesthesia or an epidural. Once medicine is in effect, the surgeon will begin to repair the hernia.
Patients will be kept on painkillers for the first few days after the hernia operation. After this, they may use over-the-counter pain relievers. Ice should be applied to the incision site for the first 24-48 hours. After that, heat should be used to improve blood flow and speed up the healing process. The bandages covering the wound should be kept clean and dry.
While still in the hospital, patients may be asked to breathe deeply and cough often, to help keep the lungs clear. Pressing a pillow against the abdomen can relieve some of the post-operation pain. A tube may have been inserted into the surgery site to help facilitate draining and faster healing. During recovery, a patient should regularly move their legs, even if they are recovering in bed, to prevent blood clots from forming.
The stitches put in after the hernia operation should dissolve within seven to eleven days. Within a couple of days, patients should be able to get up and move around, although they will still have to be careful about over exerting themselves. The hole in the abdominal wall will take time to heal. If there is any swelling or pus at the surgery site, or if a fever develops, it is important to immediately consult a doctor, as it could be a sign of infection.