2020-11-18T08:48:28-06:00November 24th, 2020|

Ask the Experts: Pain and weakness caused by a hernia can be fixed by a simple, safe outpatient surgery

A hernia is a fairly common injury that occurs when an organ or fatty tissue pushes through a weak spot in your muscle. 

It can cause pain and weakness and keep you from normal activities like exercise, work and family events.

Fortunately, a routine, minimally invasive outpatient surgery can get you back in action quickly.

Hernias cause pain and weakness that make normal activities such as work, exercise and family outings difficult or even impossible. A simple outpatient surgery can get you back in action.

Nabajit Choudhury, MBBS, MS, a general surgeon at Regional One Health, said most patients are back to work in a week and fully recovered within two months.

“A hernia can affect your activities of daily living,” Dr. Choudhury said. “If someone loves to exercise and can’t exercise, or a grandpa can’t pick up his grandson or play with him because it hurts too much, it might be time to talk about surgery so you can get back to your regular life.”

There are also aesthetic issues. Hernias cause a large bulge in the abdomen, and some patients tell him they give up trips to the beach and pool because they’re embarrassed to wear a swimsuit.

Here’s how a general surgeon like Dr. Choudhury can help:

What are the signs of a hernia?

Nabajit Choudhury, MBBS, MS, puts patients minds at ease by giving them honest information about their surgery. “It’s a big deal for the patient and their family,” he said. “I try to tell them what to expect.”

Dr. Choudhury starts with a thorough examination and accurate diagnosis.

“By definition, a hernia is any abnormal protrusion from a cavity in the body,” he said. “Early on, a patient may have discomfort or pain in the area where it’s going to form. Over time, invariably they’ll notice a bulge that progresses in size as time goes by.”

Symptoms may worsen when you cough or lift something heavy. Some patients also experience heartburn, constipation and a heavy feeling in the abdomen.

Hernias typically occur in the groin or abdomen when an organ or fatty tissue pushes through a weak spot in the muscle. They can be brought on by heavy lifting, diarrhea or constipation and persistent coughing and sneezing. Risk factors include obesity, poor nutrition and smoking.

A hernia can also be the result of an injury or a surgical incision that doesn’t heal properly.

What does hernia surgery involve?

Hernias cannot be fixed without surgery. Dr. Choudhury understands patients are often nervous about being operated on, and he aims to put their minds at ease.

“It’s a big deal for the patient and their family,” he said. “I try to tell them what to expect, both in terms of the outcome and what type of pain they’ll experience and how we’ll control their pain.”

Fortunately, he said, most hernia surgeries are routine and minimally invasive.

The procedures are done under general anesthesia. Dr. Choudhury operates laparoscopically, meaning a thin tube is inserted through a small incision. He said hernia patients can expect three small incisions around the belly button.

Most patients can be up and about the same day of their hernia surgery, and can return to most normal activities after a week. They should avoid heavy lifting for 6 to 8 weeks.

The surgery usually lasts 30 minutes to a couple hours, and patients go home the same day.

There are more complicated cases, typically resulting from a trauma or scar tissue from a prior surgery. In those cases, the procedure requires a larger incision (through the prior incision in the case of surgical scar tissue) and can take anywhere from 3 to 7 hours. Patients often need to stay in the hospital overnight.

What can I expect after surgery?

With laparoscopic surgery, the tiny incisions result in little risk of infection or complications. Most patients are up and walking around the same day and can perform basic household chores the next day. Patients can drive after two or three days.

Dr. Choudhury recommends resting for about a week. After that, patients can return to work if they have a desk job that doesn’t require a lot of physical activity: “You can sit at a desk, type and do paperwork as long as you’re feeling comfortable,” he said.

Patients shouldn’t do any heavy lifting for 6 to 8 weeks.

For most patients, relief from the hernia itself is immediate. Patients may experience pain from the incisions, fever and flulike symptoms for a few days. Most are back to normal in a week.

Make an appointment today

Dr. Choudhury sees patients at our East Campus, 6555 Quince Road, and our Outpatient Center, 880 Madison Avenue.

For an appointment at the East Campus, call 901-515-3150. For an appointment at the Outpatient Center, call 901-545-6969.