Trust Your Gut: Understanding Hernias

About 27% of men and 3% of women will experience an inguinal hernia (the most common type of hernia) in their lifetime. Generally, hernias occur when the abdomen is under intense pressure, for example when someone is lifting something heavy or has chronic coughing, and a part of the bowel or peritoneum pushes through a gap in the abdominal wall. Surgery is the most common treatment to repair a hernia, but we dive further into understanding hernias so patients can remain as informed as possible.

Types of Hernias

Not all hernias are the same, but most of them do present a bulge in the abdomen and pain at the hernia site. Here are the most common types of hernias:

  • Inguinal hernias: This is the most common type of hernia, especially for men, and occurs at a weak spot above the groin.
  • Femoral hernias: Mainly affecting women, femoral hernias occur in the upper part of the thigh.
  • Incisional hernias: These hernias occur in scar tissue from previous surgical incisions where the abdomen wall is weaker.
  • Umbilical hernias: Most common in infants and overweight adults, umbilical hernias occur at a weak point in the abdominal wall near the belly button.
  • Epigastric hernias: This type happens when tissue pushes through a gap in the abdominal wall between the breastbone and the belly button.

Symptoms for Hernias

Each type of hernia can present its own set of problems and can be bothersome and often painful. While hernias are not usually life-threatening, they can develop complications. Signs for hernias include:

  • Visible bulge on the abdomen, especially with coughing or straining.
  • Pain, pressure, or pulling sensation at the hernia site.

Important: Sharp abdominal pain and vomiting may indicate the intestine has slipped through the hernia sac and is strangulated. This is a surgical emergency and immediate treatment is needed.

Treatment Options for Hernias

Surgery is the only treatment option for hernias and involves removing or pushing the hernia sac back into the abdomen and stitching the abdomen walls together. The placement of a reinforcing mesh is usually necessary; however, surgical treatment options vary including:

  • Open hernia repair: A single incision is made near the site, and the hernia is repaired with surgical mesh or by suturing the muscle closed. This is the traditional surgical solution for a hernia and is generally a quick procedure.
  • Laparoscopic or Robotic Hernia Repair: In this procedure, the hernia is repaired by surgical mesh or sutures inserted through instruments placed into small incisions in the abdomen. This procedure is minimally invasive and uses three to four small incisions.

What to Expect for a Hernia Repair

After a hernia procedure, you can return to normal activities and, in most cases, will not have any further discomfort. If you have a hernia and you are planning to have an operation to repair it, it’s important to be prepared and know what to expect.

  • Before your surgery: With your surgeon, you will discuss family history, medications, and current pain control options. You may also receive blood work, a CT scan, or ultrasound for evaluation.
  • The day of the repair: Plan to not eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of the operation. The procedure requires anesthesia, so you will need a driver to stay during your surgery and drive you home after.
  • Recovery post procedure: Most patients return home after a hernia repair procedure within 24 hours, however more complex surgeries may require you to stay longer. After recovery, you can return to work generally within two to three days. For four to six weeks after the surgery, you will not be able to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds or perform any strenuous activity.


With three general surgeons, Wyoming Surgical Associates can offer more for understanding hernias. Our surgeons perform hernia repair surgery driven by precision, safety, and continued innovation. Whether it’s a simple repair or more complex procedure, you can trust our surgeons to operate with a high standard of care, backed by years of experience.