A growing number of people in the U.S. are seeking treatment for hernias. About one in four men and one in 50 women will need surgery for the most common type, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Surgery.
Traditionally, surgeons repaired hernias with open surgery. In fact, many surgeons across the country are still doing so. Laparoscopic surgery is another option that is less invasive and more commonly used today.
“I frequently see patients with recurrent hernias after they’ve been fixed with open surgery,” said Michael Arroyo, MD, a surgeon with Saint Luke’s Surgical Specialists. “Robotic surgery is a more specialized form of laparoscopic surgery. It has changed how we suture, allows us to place mesh in places that were more difficult with traditional surgery, and the camera is much better which allows us to see finer detail and have more precise movement.”
With robotic surgery, there is less chance of injury, fewer and smaller scars, and quicker recovery times on average.
Hernias can happen at any age. Common causes and risk factors include heavy lifting or straining, chronic coughing, obesity, and previous surgery.
A bulge or pain occurring in the groin area or around the belly button, or anywhere along the middle of the abdomen are possible signs of a hernia. However, the signs can come and go, which cause many people to put off going to the doctor.
“I see that frequently—patients will have had a hernia for years and they have been able to ignore it because it isn’t causing pain.” Dr. Arroyo said. “Frequently patients will start having pain associated with their hernia and this will cause them to seek treatment.”
But just because a hernia is not painful does not mean it will not cause serious issues.
“A hernia is a defect in the muscle layer,” Dr. Arroyo said. “If something important like a section of intestine comes through that defect and gets caught, we call that incarceration. This could lead to the blood supply getting cut off to that intestine which would be strangulation and would require emergency surgery.
Most patients who undergo hernia repair surgery can go home the same day. Most people can resume normal activities within a few days while avoiding heavy lifting for 3 to 6 weeks.
“Hernia surgery is not something to be scared of,” Dr. Arroyo said. “Minimally invasive surgery and robotics have advanced our techniques. Once you get past the recovery period, you can go about life as normal without having to avoid any specific activities.”
Saint Luke’s has helped more than 7,500 people with the assistance of robotic technology since 2002 from hernia repair to hysterectomies and coronary artery bypass.
Learn more about Saint Luke’s Surgical Specialists and schedule an appointment at the location nearest you.