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What is an Incisional Hernia?


Hernias develop when there is a weakness or hole in the muscular wall (the peritoneum), which generally holds abdominal organs in place. This condition creates a bulge in the area, as a hernia allows your organs and tissues to push through. While in most other types of hernias the causes range from natural occurrence, heavy lifting, chronic coughing, straining or constipation; an incisional hernia is a condition that occurs to individuals who have just had an operation around their stomach area. Caused by weakening scar tissues that develop after an operation, those with vertical scars are most susceptible to this type of hernia. Incisional hernias are the second most common form of hernia, behind inguinal, as most stomach-related surgeries can lead to this condition.

This type of hernia general occurs in people who:

  • Suffer with overweight issues.
  • Use, or have used steroid medications.
  • Have dealt with lung issues post-surgery.
  • Suffered through a wound infection after their operation, or have had multiple surgeries under the same surgical scar.

As with some other hernias, symptoms for incisional include:

  • The appearance of a bulge in, or underneath a surgical scar. The lump may cause pain, discomfort, and can also be tender to the touch.
  • The bulge likely disappears when an individual is lying down.
  • Standing, lifting, coughing, and laughter can increase the pain of the lump.
  • Constipation and/or blood in your stool.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

If you think you may have an incisional hernia, it is recommended to visit your doctor as soon as possible. Your family physician will most likely only need to conduct a physical examination, as it is quite rare for an ultrasound or x-ray to be performed with this type of hernia. As incisional hernias start off small and grow over time; a surgery will be needed to remove it and avoid additional risks. While a patient needs to work with their doctor leading up to the surgery; the actually repair is a one day procedure. Doctors do keep patients in the hospital for several hours to monitor their body temperature, pulse, blood pressure, heart, and the surgical scar for bleeding or swelling; individuals are generally released shortly after. Post-surgery, patient are advised to avoid exercise and strenuous physical activities for about two weeks; and are prohibited from lifting heavy objects for eight weeks. This is to ensure proper healing, and avoid any further complications.