Ventral Hernias

You may be familiar with the diagnosis of a hernia, but you may be unaware that there are different kinds of hernias. Ventral hernias are one common type of hernia that can occur in both males and females. They may be present at birth, but they may also be acquired. Having a ventral hernia can be nerve-racking, but knowing more about ventral hernias and how they are managed can help give you peace of mind.

Here’s what you need to know about ventral hernias and how the experts at Advanced Laparoscopic Associates (ALA) can help you manage this type of hernia.

What is a ventral hernia?

A ventral hernia occurs when a weak area of the abdominal wall allows a portion of your intestinal tissue or other abdominal tissue to push through your abdominal muscle layer. A ventral hernia can occur anywhere along the midline of your abdominal wall, such as at the level of your stomach (an “epigastric hernia”), your belly button (an “umbilical hernia”) or around an old surgical incision or scar (an “incisional hernia”).

What causes a ventral hernia?

There are numerous causes of ventral hernias. Most are considered “acquired,” meaning that they occur sometime after birth rather than you being born with the condition. Ventral hernias can occur after a previous surgery because of weakness of the tissue around the surgical scar—in this case, it is called an incisional hernia. They can also occur when there is a weak point in the abdominal wall, which may be caused by trauma or repetitive stress (i.e., heavy lifting or straining). The abdominal wall is more likely to be vulnerable to developing a ventral hernia or incisional hernia if you have a medical condition such as obesity, chronic cough, a history of repetitive weight gain and loss, a history of cigarette smoking or if you are an older age.

What are the symptoms of a ventral hernia?

If you have a ventral hernia, you may be experiencing an array of symptoms, ranging from those causing you a slight nuisance to those causing significant distress.

Ventral hernias symptoms can include:

  • A painless bulge of the abdominal area that increases when you “bear down”
  • A lump in the area of a previous surgical incision in the abdomen
  • Tenderness in a bulging area of the abdomen
  • Constipation, or thin stool
  • Nausea, vomiting or fever
  • Severe abdominal pain surrounding a bulging area of the abdomen

If you are experiencing severe pain in the area of a suspected hernia, it could be a surgical emergency causing your tissue to lose its blood supply. Contact emergency medical services immediately for further direction.

What are the treatment options for a ventral hernia?

Ventral hernias are typically treated surgically. If a ventral hernia is not causing you any profound symptoms, you may be able to wait some time before surgical treatment (this may be helpful if you are anticipating a different medical event or if you would prefer to plan around a life event). In the meantime, you may be able to use a binder or other mechanical dressing to help reduce the bulging of your hernia.

Ventral hernias are definitively treated using a surgical procedure. This can be accomplished via an open repair or a laparoscopic repair. At ALA, our surgeons specialize in laparoscopic repairs because they are associated with fewer complications, shorter hospital stays, quicker returns to activity and lower recurrence rates. During a laparoscopic hernia repair procedure, a surgeon first makes a few small incisions in the abdomen and then fills the cavity with gas for ideal visualization of the hernia and surrounding structures. Then, the surgeon uses small tools inserted through the incisions in the abdomen, and a small camera, to repair the hernia using either a mesh material or sutures.

Robotic technologies are also embraced by our surgeons, and they share the same benefits as pure laparoscopic methods. During a robotic procedure, the abdomen is filled with gas, and then robotic tools are inserted into the abdominal cavity via small incisions, as well as a state-of-the-art camera system. This technique can allow a surgeon to repair a ventral hernia using mesh or sutures with extremely fine control of all movements, and it has been associated with shorter hospital stays and fewer complications compared to a traditional open repair.

Managing Ventral Hernias

At ALA, our surgical specialists excel at treating ventral hernias using a minimally-invasive, laparoscopic approach. Whenever possible, our surgeons strive to use state-of-the-art methods, such as robotics, to have greater precision and control during a hernia repair and improve surgical recovery outcomes.

To learn more about our minimally-invasive ventral hernia repair or incisional hernia repair techniques, or to be evaluated for symptoms of a ventral hernia, contact us today.

Call (201) 646-1121 today and schedule your consultation with one of our surgeons!


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