Every year in the United States, about five million people develop a hernia. While people with small hernias and minor symptoms may not need hernia repair surgery, most eventually will.
Why? A hernia does not resolve on its own, and untreated hernias tend to get bigger over time. They can also lead to a rare, life-threatening complication called hernia strangulation.
At Michael Sutker, MD, in Dallas and McKinney, Texas, board-certified general surgeon Dr. Michael Sutker performs a variety of effective hernia repair surgery techniques — including laparoscopic, da Vinci robotic surgery, and open surgery — to help heal your hernia.
Here, Dr. Sutker discusses hernia causes and symptoms, and explains when this common condition requires surgery.
What is a hernia?
A hernia is a medical condition that occurs when an internal organ or fatty tissue protrudes through a weak spot in the overlying muscle or connective tissue, most commonly in the groin or lower abdomen. While this problem affects people of all ages and backgrounds, it’s most common in middle-aged men.
Hernias are categorized based on where they occur in the abdominal wall. Inguinal hernias account for about three in four (75%) hernia diagnoses. These hernias mainly affect men and occur when underlying tissues protrude through the lower abdomen, near the groin.
How do I know if I have a hernia?
The first sign of a hernia is a small lump in your abdomen or groin, where underlying tissues have pushed through the weak spot in the overlying connective tissue wall. You may also notice:
- Sharp pain or a dull ache near the lump
- Increased discomfort when sitting or moving
- Pressure in the area where the lump is visible
- A lump that disappears when you lie down
When you first notice your hernia, your symptoms may be mild. However, issues tend to worsen over time.
Do I need surgery for my hernia?
If you have mild symptoms, then surgery may not be necessary. In cases where the protrusion is small and pain is minimal, Dr. Sutker may suggest a period of “watchful waiting.” You can wait for surgery for several months or years in these cases. However, eventually, you will most likely need surgical repair of your hernia.
Dr. Sutker will recommend surgery when the pain and pressure worsen. Additionally, he’ll recommend surgery when the protruding tissue gets larger or becomes trapped in the abdominal wall. Known as incarceration, this condition can lead to the blood supply of the tissue getting cut off — a life-threatening condition known as strangulation that requires emergency care. Our goal is to avoid this dangerous scenario from the start.
If you suspect you have a hernia, we can help. Give us a call today, or click online to schedule a visit at Michael Sutker, MD, in Dallas and McKinney, Texas, any time.