It is estimated that some 5 million Americans suffer from hernias at any given time. Even so, only about 700,000 hernia repair procedures are performed annually. While not every hernia demands immediate surgical intervention, the disparity in numbers may have another root cause. Hernia surgery was once a major undertaking that involved a long recovery period. This, however, is not always the case anymore thanks to advancements in laparoscopic surgery.
Laparoscopic hernia repair procedures are preferred by most surgeons and their patients for a few reasons. Although not technically “easier” than open surgery, they do present with some benefits. They include:
• Smaller incisions – Open hernia repair procedures call for a large incision. Laparoscopic procedures are designed to only involve very tiny incisions to allow surgical tools and a visual aid inside the body.
• Reduced blood loss – One of the biggest advantages of laparoscopic procedures versus open is the reduced blood loss generally associated with them. In addition, these procedures generally involve a lower complication and infection risk, which can be a very big benefit.
• Shortened recovery time – Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of modern hernia repair procedures is the shortened recovery time involved. What used to involve a multi-day hospital stay and months of recovery now only generally involves an overnight or outpatient stay in the hospital and a few weeks of taking it easy.
Hernias develop when a part of an organ manages to protrude through a weakened place in the muscle or tissue meant to hold it in place. This condition, for example, can arise when intestines push through the abdominal wall. Although many people can live with hernias for a time, the condition does not remedy itself. In some cases, the organ can have its blood flow cut off as a result of the hernia. This results in a condition known as a “strangulation.” Immediate medical intervention is required when this occurs.
People who suspect they have hernias are urged to obtain medical advice as soon as possible. While surgery may not be recommended right away, hernias do require monitoring to avoid serious complications, such as strangulation. Should surgery be recommended most people will find modern laparoscopic procedures make the repair much less intimidating than it once was.