Think of your abdomen as a box. The front is the abdominal wall, the posterior part is your back, the superior part is the diaphragm (breathing muscle), and the inferior part is your pelvis. A hernia happens when the organs that are supposed to be in this box push through to the outside of the box through a defect or hole. There are several types of hernias:
Most hernias are not emergencies. Sometimes the hernias are very small and do not cause problems. However, a hernia never goes away by itself and can only be fixed through surgery. There are exceptions to surgery when a hernia can be watched but these are rare. We recommend discussing all hernias with one of our surgeons.Hernias can worsen over time and become larger and contain more organs and this makes the surgery more difficult than if the hernia was addressed early.There are two scenarios where a hernia becomes an emergency. The first is called incarceration where an organ becomes trapped in the hernia and cannot go back into the abdomen. The second is a progression of incarceration called strangulation. This is when the organ that is stuck starts to lose blood supply. To prevent incarceration or strangulation, we typically recommend hernia surgery for the vast majority of our patients.
The vast majority of the patients will have this surgery as an outpatient and will go home the same day. You will need to be on a light diet that is low in fat and cholesterol for about 2 days after surgery so that you can recover from the anesthesia. We recommend a diet low in fat and cholesterol always but try to follow this for about 4 weeks after surgery to help the recovery process. Typically, after recovery there are no dietary restrictions.