Do I need hernia surgery? 3 signs it’s time to see a doctor

Published: Tuesday, November 2, 2021

If you suspect you have a hernia, your first plan of action should be to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Hernias will not go away on their own, so it is important to meet with a trained physician or hernia specialist who can evaluate your case and help develop a treatment plan specific to you. Here are three signs that it’s time to see a doctor about a suspected or confirmed hernia.

You have a bulge or other hernia symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of a hernia will vary based on the type of hernia you have but common symptoms include a visible or palpable bulge that becomes more pronounced when you cough or strain and mild to severe pain or pressure in the affected area that may intensify with strenuous activities, such as lifting or straining.

You suspect it’s a hernia but haven’t been to the doctor yet.

If you suspect you have a hernia— even if you’re only experiencing mild discomfort— it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. In cases where the hernia is very small and not causing symptoms, you may be able to monitor and treat it with lifestyle changes and medical care for a short period before needing surgery. It’s important to understand, however, that hernias do not heal on their own and they will almost always require surgery. Delaying hernia surgery will allow the hernia to grow and muscles will likely become weaker. This will make surgery and recover more difficult.

Each patient’s situation is different, so it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for the best timeframe to have your hernia surgery.

Fortunately, hernia repair surgery is typically highly successful, and the possibility of a recurrence of is very low overall. In fact, thanks to our hernia specialists at the Hernia Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC), we see complication rates that are much lower than the national average.

  • Less than 1% of patients returned to the operating room
  • Less than 1% of patients were readmitted to the hospital
  • As many as 30% of patients nationwide experience a second hernia after an initial hernia repair, but surgeons at the Hernia Center of NGMC are highly experienced and have a complication rate that is significantly lower than the national average: less than 1% for inguinal hernias and approximately 8% for all ventral/incisional hernias.

You know you have a hernia and you become ill.

If left untreated, a hernia can cause rare but serious complications, including a complication called strangulation. Strangulation can occur when a loop of the intestine or tissue becomes trapped inside the hernia and is cut off from your blood supply.

If you know you have a hernia and develop any of the following symptoms, seek immediate emergency care:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Blood in your stool
  • Unable to have a bowel movement or pass gas

What type of doctor treats hernias?

Your primary care provider can diagnose a hernia. In most cases, your doctor will refer you to a general surgeon for a surgery evaluation.

A general surgeon is trained to provide surgical care for most of the body, including the gastrointestinal track, the abdomen and its contents, breast, skin and soft tissue, and endocrine system. General surgeons are trained to make a diagnosis and offer preoperative, operative, and postoperative care for the patient.

The full scope of what a general surgeon treats will vary depending on location. Some general surgeons do a vast range of surgeries, while others choose to focus on certain specialties.

How do I decide which surgeon to see for my hernia repair?

You can minimize the risks of surgery by choosing a surgeon and medical care team that are thoroughly trained and experienced in hernia repairs. When considering surgeons, ask questions about their experience with the procedure, including the number of times they’ve performed it, and their record of successes, as well as complications.

At the Hernia Center of NGMC, our surgeons are hernia specialists who are experienced and highly skilled in open, laparoscopic and robotic hernia repair. They will evaluate your case to determine which option is best for you. Each surgeon performs between 15 to 30 hernia surgeries a month. This means by choosing the Hernia Center of NGMC, you are getting hernia surgeons who are highly experienced and offer the highest quality surgical care possible. In fact, our hernia repair surgeons at the Hernia Center have been recognized by Surgical Review Corporation for their quality outcomes and expertise.

Next Steps

If you think you have a hernia, schedule an appointment with one of our hernia surgeons at the Hernia Center of NGMC. The Hernia Center is Georgia’s first accredited Hernia Surgery Center of Excellence and offers you access to the most advanced robotic and minimally invasive surgical techniques for hernia repair. Our experienced surgeons have performed nearly 6,000 minimally invasive hernia repairs and more than 1,500 robotic hernia repairs using the da Vinci surgical system. 

Call 770-219-4040 to speak to our care team about questions or to schedule an appointment.