Athens Regional Health System
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Hernia Repair, Inguinal

Inguinal hernias are bulges where soft tissue protrudes through a weak point or tear in the lower abdominal wall. This bulge can be especially painful when you cough, bend over or lift a heavy object.

People can be born with an abdominal wall weakness when the lining does not close adequately. Other hernias develop later when muscles weaken due to factors such as aging, strenuous physical activity or coughing.

Men are ten times more likely than women to have inguinal hernias, but no one is immune.

Risk factors for inguinal hernias include:

  • Family history - your risk increases if a parent or sibling has the condition
  • Certain medical conditions - having a disease such as cystic fibrosis that causes severe lung damage and chronic cough may make you more susceptible to developing an inguinal hernia 
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic constipation - straining during bowel movements can cause hernias
  • Excess weight - being moderately to severely overweight can put more pressure on your abdomen
  • Pregnancy - this can weaken your abdominal muscles and put excess pressure on your abdomen
  • Certain occupations - having jobs that require standing for long periods of time or heavy physical labor increase your risk for developing an inguinal hernia
  • Premature birth
  • History of hernias - if you have had one inguinal hernia, you are more likely to develop another one
  • Inguinal hernias can lead to life-threatening complications, so your doctor will likely recommend surgery for a hernia that is painful or growing.

To repair an inguinal hernia, the surgeon will make a single long incision in the groin. If the inguinal hernia is bulging out, the surgeon will push the bulge back into place. If the hernia is going down the inguinal canal (a natural opening through the muscles of the abdominal wall), the hernia sac will be pushed back or tied off to be removed. 

The weak spot of the muscle where the bulge is located  will be repaired by sewing the edges of healthy muscle tissue together.

Once the surgery is completed, a recovery period of four weeks is recommended. However, recovery time varies for each individual.

Be sure to follow a healthy diet high in fiber and drink plenty of fluids, preventing constipation. Maintain a healthy weight with diet and exercise and avoid smoking cigarettes.

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