An incisional hernia is a type of hernia that occurs when the contents of the abdomen, such as the small or large intestine and omentum (Fat), push through a weakened area in the abdominal wall caused secondary to previous surgery. Symptoms of an incisional hernia include pain, swelling near the site of the incision, nausea, vomiting & constipation in case of obstructed hernias. Treatment for an incisional hernia is always surgery. Type of surgery depends upon the type of presentation. This type of hernia is relatively common, accounting for up to 25% of all hernias.
In this blog post, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for incisional hernias.
What is Incisional Hernia?
An incisional hernia is a type of abdominal wall hernia that occurs following surgery. It develops when the contents of the abdomen, such as fat or organs, push through a weakened area in the abdominal wall muscle and bulge outwards. An incisional hernia can occur at any time after an abdominal operation, but it most commonly appears within three months post-surgery (usually while lifting heavy objects).
Simply put, an incisional hernia is a hole or tear in the muscle wall of your abdomen that allows the contents of your abdomen to push through.
An incisional hernia should be evaluated by a doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms. Treatment for an incisional hernia usually requires surgery.
Incisional Hernia Causes
An incisional hernia is most commonly caused by a weak spot in the abdominal wall muscles. When you have an incisional hernia, your body is no longer able to keep the contents of your abdomen inside like it’s supposed to.
Incisional hernias can also occur spontaneously without any known cause.
There are several factors that can increase your risk for developing an incisional hernia, including:
- Obesity – Obesity can put pressure on your abdominal wall, which can lead to an incisional hernia.
- Chronic coughing – Chronic coughing puts strain on the abdomen and weakens the muscles in this area. This makes it easier for something like fat or intestines to push through into another part of the stomach than normal (herniation).
- Straining during bowel movements or chronic constipation – Straining too hard when you go for passing stools is bad for your health! It causes stress and strain on both muscles that support our back as well as the ones inside of us; both these areas can become weakened over time if this continues long term resulting in an incisional hernia.
- Age – Aging causes muscles to lose their strength and elasticity, which increases the risk of developing a hernia. Old age also increases your chances of having multiple surgeries over time (including abdominal ones). This can lead to wear and tear on those same muscles supporting our back as well as ones inside us, resulting in weakness that makes it easier than normal for something like fat or intestines pushes through into another part of their stomach, leading them down this path when they get older!
- Having had multiple surgeries – Having surgery is one thing, but if you’ve had more than two abdominal operations, then the odds are good enough that damage will occur where either muscle tissue becomes weak or there’s already been the type of injury that precedes the hernia. Scar tissue can form after any surgery, and it’s not just a pretty pink ribbon that pops up on our skin post-operation, but a physical reality for some patients in terms of weakened muscle fiber leading to hernias.
- Smoking tobacco products – smoking decreases blood flow to the incisions in the body, which makes them more prone to infection; it also weakens the strength of tissues that are healing from surgical wounds. Smoking increases your risk of having complications after any type of operation, including minor surgeries like dental work and routine procedures like colonoscopies.
You might notice symptoms right away—or they could appear weeks or even months after the initial injury.
Incisional Hernia Symptoms
The most common symptom of an incisional hernia is a bulge in the area where you had surgery.
Other symptoms include:
- Sharp, burning pain at the site of your surgery or near it (this usually happens when coughing and lifting heavy objects)
- Nausea after eating fatty foods like fried chicken wings, for example. If this continues, then see a doctor about possible ulcer formation on the top part of the stomach lining due to pressure being applied by intestines pushing through there rather than staying inside their normal spot within the body cavity sides! If left untreated, these can bleed out internally, causing death. So do not ignore any signs something might be wrong with this particular organ’s health status because they’re likely indicative that something major has occurred when they appear regularly over time!
- Constipation – This is a common symptom of an incisional hernia. Still, it’s also caused by many other things, including poor diet and stress, so if you have other reasons for thinking about an incision, then don’t worry too much about constipation alone being an indicator as there are many other factors at play.
- Diarrhea – This is not often associated with an incisional hernia, but it can happen if you’re experiencing constipation.
- A lump or bulge in the area where your surgery was performed (this could also be a sign of other types of hernias)
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor.
Incisional Hernia Treatment
Treatment for incisional hernia depends on complications. But if the area feels tender or looks red/swollen, then see a doctor immediately to find out what kind of treatment options exist for that particular condition.
Surgery could still work even after months have passed since first noticing it because these things don’t always heal themselves without intervention from professional medical personnel! You’ll also want someone experienced with this type of thing before going under anesthesia again just in case something goes wrong during the operation.
If you have a large incisional hernia with complications like an infection, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair it and reduce the risk of further damage.
Incisional hernia repair depends on the incisional hernia diagnosis. Treatment options can vary from Simple surgery to complex surgery. If you experience any symptoms, see a doctor right away for diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Vijay H S | Consultant – Surgical Gastroenterology | Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, HSR Layout, Bangalore