The most common type of hernia in the United States is an inguinal (or groin) hernia. These typically occur in men and often don’t cause any symptoms at first but can increase in size and become uncomfortable and even painful. Most patients first notice a bulge in their groin as the first sign of a hernia. Usually the bulge does not occur all the time, only while coughing or lifting heavy objects. Sometimes, the patient never knew that he had a hernia until his doctor found one on a routine physical examination.
Although surgeons used to think that all hernias need to be repaired, we no longer make this recommendation. In many patients, the hernia is not painful or bothersome – I typically inform these patients that there is a very low risk of something getting “stuck” in the hernia and that it is very reasonable to hold off on repairing the hernia and taking more a “wait and see approach.” Although the “wait and see” approach is an accepted treatment plan, it should only be done after being examined by a physician to make sure that it is appropriate for your type of hernia. Patients whose hernias do cause discomfort should undergo repair.
Inguinal hernias require surgery to repair them. They are caused by a hole or tear in the groin muscle that won’t heal on its own. Typically, all hernias are repaired by patching the hole with a soft, plastic like meshed material. There are two different types of surgical repair:
- Open Repair: An incision is made in the groin and the hole is patched from the outside with the mesh. This is the most common type of repair performed today.
- Laparoscopic repair: The hernia is repaired through an incision in the belly button and patched from the inside
Typically I prefer to repair hernias laparoscopically because it causes less pain and shortens recovery. Most of my patients are back on their feet a few hours after surgery and require very little pain medication. Although I recommend a week off of work after the procedure, those with desk jobs are usually back to work within a few days. This recovery time is up to half the time needed to recover from and open operation.
If you think you may have a hernia, call our office at: (248) 413-2670 to make an appointment to see Dr. Weiner.