How is a ventral hernia repaired?

Ventral hernias do not go away or get better on their own and require surgery to repair. In fact, without treatment, ventral hernias can get larger and worsen with time. Untreated hernias can become difficult to repair and can lead to serious complications, such as strangulation of a portion of the intestine.

The goal of ventral hernia surgery is to repair the hole/defect in the abdominal wall so that the intestine and other abdominal tissue cannot bulge through the wall again. The surgery often restores the tone and shape of the abdominal wall by repairing the hole and bringing the muscles back to their normal position.

There are three main types of hernia repair surgeries: open, laparoscopic and robotic:

  • Open hernia repair: An open incision is made in the abdomen where the hernia has occurred, and the intestine or abdominal tissue is pushed back into place. A mesh material is placed to reinforce this repair and reduce hernia recurrences. The skin is usually closed with dissolvable stitches and glue.
  • Laparoscopic surgery: Several small incisions are made away from where the hernia has occurred. A laparoscope (a thin lighted tube with a camera on the tip) is inserted through one of the openings to help guide the surgery. A surgical mesh material may be inserted to strengthen the weakened area in the abdominal wall. Advantages of this approach compared with open hernia repair include a lower risk of infection, because smaller-sized incisions are used.
  • Robotic hernia repair: Like laparoscopic surgery, robotic surgery uses a laparoscope, and is performed in the same manner (small incisions, a tiny camera). Robotic surgery differs from laparoscopic surgery in that the surgeon is seated at a console in the operating room, and handles the surgical instruments from the console. While robotic surgery can be used for some smaller hernias, or weak areas, it can now also be used to reconstruct the abdominal wall. Other benefits of robotic hernia surgery are that the patient has tiny scars rather than one large incision scar, and there may be less pain after this surgery compared to open surgery.

Your surgeon will consider several factors to help determine the best surgical hernia repair method for you, including:

  • Your age
  • Existing health problems and medical history
  • The size of the hernia
  • The size and contour of the abdominal wall
  • Amount of skin that can be used for the repair, and
  • Presence of infection.

Importantly, your hernia repair is tailored to your specific situation based on the goals of the procedure and expected outcomes.

Where can I learn more about open ventral hernia repair?

You can learn more about the open ventral hernia repair from this surgery guide.

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