10 Things to Know About Hernias

Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2022

At the Hernia Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) – Georgia’s first accredited Hernia Surgery Center of Excellence – we get a lot of questions about hernias. Below we answer some of the most common questions we get regarding signs and symptoms of hernias, surgery and what to look for.

1. What is a hernia?

A hernia is a hole or defect in the abdominal wall allowing things normally on the inside to escape to the outside of the wall.

Hernias are a common condition caused by strain combined with muscle weakness in the abdomen or groin. In some patients, hernias develop over a long period where, in others, they develop quickly. Some patients experience pain or discomfort associated with hernias, while others are asymptomatic.

2. What causes a hernia?

Some of the most common causes of hernias include:

  • Muscle weakness after surgery
  • Straining to urinate or have a bowel movement
  • Chronic coughing from conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
  • Injury from lifting heavy objects or weights
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Being pregnant multiple times
  • Congenital defect that occurs in the womb and presents at birth
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Poor nutrition

3. Are hernia symptoms different for men and women?

Men and women experience similar hernia symptoms including bulges, swelling, and discomfort in the affected area. Women are more prone to having their symptoms misdiagnosed because some doctors may initially suspect gynecological problems.

4. Are there known risk factors?

While risk factors vary based on the type, there are some common risk factors for developing a hernia, including:

  • Older age
  • Family history of hernias
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Born prematurely with a low birth weight
  • Chronic constipation
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Chronic cough

5. Do hernias heal on their own?

While a hernia cannot heal itself, it can almost always be treated effectively with surgery.

The good news is that most hernias can be repaired with minimally invasive surgery – which has a low complication rate – and most patients are able to get back to their normal routine quickly. If left untreated, however, a hernia can cause serious complications such as a bowel obstruction (resulting in severe pain, nausea or constipation) or intestinal strangulation (if the trapped section of the intestines does not get enough blood). That’s why it’s important to seek medical attention right away if you think you may have a hernia.

6. Tips for preventing a hernia:

If you have some of the risk factors mentioned above, there are a variety of things you can to do to help prevent a hernia:

  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Stop smoking
  • Lose weight (if you are overweight or obese)
  • Seek treatment for a persistent cough
  • Avoid straining when using the bathroom

7. How long does it take to recover from hernia surgery?

After hernia repair surgery, it is common to experience mild to moderate pain and to feel a little run down. It’s also normal to feel pulling or twinges in the affected area as you heal. Most people, however, feel better within a few days and much better within a week of surgery.

Each patient’s recovery from hernia surgery is different, but most people are able to return to work within three days to two weeks after surgery.

8. How do I choose the right hernia surgeon?

Selecting an experienced hernia surgeon with a high level of technical skill will significantly reduce the risk of recurrence or other complications. At the Hernia Center of NGMC, our hernia repair surgeons are experienced and highly skilled in open, laparoscopic and robotic hernia repair. Our surgeons also successfully treat patients who had initial hernia repair elsewhere but need revision surgery because their hernia has returned.

Our surgeons each perform between 15 to 30 hernia surgeries a month. This means that by choosing the Hernia Center of NGMC, you will see a hernia doctor who is highly experienced and will provide the highest quality hernia repair and surgical care possible. In fact, our hernia surgeons at the Hernia Center have been recognized by Surgical Review Corporation for their quality outcomes and expertise.

9. Where is the surgery performed?

Most hernia repair surgeries are outpatient procedures. For patients receiving hernia surgery at the Hernia Center of NGMC, the procedure will take place at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville.

For those who are not local to Gainesville, but wish to travel for expertise, we do offer initial phone/virtual consults.

10. I think I have a hernia. What should I do?

If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of a hernia, our specialists at the Hernia Center of NGMC can determine treatment options specific to your case.

As Georgia’s first accredited Hernia Surgery Center of Excellence, NGMC offers you access to the most advanced robotic and minimally invasive surgical techniques for hernia repair.

Contact us for an appointment today by calling 770-219-4040.