Once we’ve diagnosed a hernia, the next step is to determine what your hernia treatment options are. As we discuss in the video above, some patients may not have to undergo any treatment for their hernia. Watchful waiting is sometimes the best treatment for patients.
For those patients who have symptoms and need their hernia fixed, deciding on what type of surgery to have is the next step. Finding a hernia surgeon who can offer you all of your options is important.
Follow our step by step process below to help you understand your treatment options as well as helping you decide what to do about your hernia!
Hernia Treatment Options #1: Conservative Management – Watchful Waiting
For those patients who choose to watch their hernia, we are always supportive of your decision. We discuss at your consultation that you will have about a 75% chance of the hernia getting larger over time, and/or causing more symptoms including pain and discomfort. In our experience about 10% of patients who are seeing us in our office decide to just watch their hernia.
The remaining 90% choose to have their hernia repaired. Although there are several hernia treatment options, keep in mind that our patient selection is biased towards surgery since we are a surgical practice. Primary care physicians likely see patients who watch their hernia more frequently. The other important topic that we discuss with our patients who want to watch their hernia is the very small risks of emergency surgery.
Hernia Treatment Options #2: A Hernia Truss or Belt
The least invasive of the hernia treatment options is the hernia belt, or truss. Some patients find that wearing a hernia truss or a hernia belt can reduce the symptoms that they experience from their hernia. As we discuss in the video above, this isn’t a cure for a hernia, but can sometimes help patients manage the symptoms. A hernia belt is a form of a groin support, which had a tight pad positioned over the hole in the muscle.
While this pad is in place, the intestines or fat are unable to push through the hernia, reducing the symptoms. As expected, after taking off the hernia truss, the symptoms return. Hernia truss’ do not help the muscle heal, or promote a ‘cure’ from a patients hernia. However, some patients use a hernia belt as a bridge between developing symptoms from their hernia, and surgical repair.
Hernia Treatment Options #3: Hernia Surgery
The majority of patients who develop a hernia choose to have that hernia repaired. Active patients involved with exercise, fitness, and or other sports don’t want the risk of the hernia getting larger with activity. Other patients don’t want to take the risk of having the hernia strangulate requiring emergency surgery. Patients who have symptoms need surgery to relieve the symptoms.
As we’ve discussed elsewhere on the site, hernias will not fix themselves and about 75% of patients who have a hernia will ultimately need to have it repaired in their lifetime. They will not ‘heal’ on their own, and requires a small surgery to repair them. Surgery is usually out-patient, meaning that you will come to our center an hour before your surgery, the surgery will last about an hour, you will recover for an hour, and then will be able to go home.
Important Decisions For You to Make
Deciding how to treat your hernia is actually fairly straightforward. It only takes making a few basic decisions before you’re on your way. Below are a series of five decisions that hopefully will help you choose what to do next for your hernia care.
Decision #1 – Is The Hernia Causing You Symptoms?
As we discuss elsewhere on our website, hernias can cause a wide range of different symptoms. However, some hernias may cause no symptoms at all. Patients who have pain, a large bulge, or other bothersome symptoms tend to want to have their hernia repaired.
However, those patients who have no symptoms at all have more of a decision to make. Patients may have had a Primary doctor, or an x-ray study, diagnose a hernia. For these patients, studies have shown that about 50% of hernias will get larger and symptomatic over time. But, that also means that about 50% of patients with no symptoms from their hernia will never need to have their hernia repaired.
Should I be Seen for my Hernia Symptoms?Dr. Todd S. Harris from California Hernia Specialists answers one of the most common frequently asked questions: what should a patient do when they are diagnosed with a hernia?
Decision #2 – Do You Want The Hernia Repaired?
The next step in deciding what to do about your hernia is to determine whether you want it repaired! This may seem like an odd statement from a doctor, but you are in charge of your health, and if you choose to not have surgery, that can be a very reasonable decision. If a hernia has just appeared, or even if it has been present for many years, you can choose not to have surgery. We support patients who don’t want surgery and I assure you we won’t try and talk you into having it repaired. We respect your decision.
Although uncommon, some patients who have symptoms from their hernia sometimes decide to watch their hernia instead of having it repaired. Again, that is your decision which we would respect. As we discussed above, some patients without any symptoms decide to just watch their hernia. 25% of those patients will never need to visit us in our office for hernia repair. Conversely 75% of patients will eventually need surgery. The decision to just watch and wait can be a reasonable decision for some patients.
Decision #3 – What If I Don’t Want to Live With My Hernia?
Patients with symptoms from their hernia tend to want that hernia repaired. That is usually an easy decision to make. However, for those patients without symptoms, many ask if they should have surgery regardless. This falls into decision #2 above. If you don’t want surgery, it’s ok to just watch and wait.
But some patients with a hernia who don’t want to watch and wait ask if they can have the hernia repaired. The answer is clear – yes. All insurance companies will cover hernia surgery even if your hernia isn’t causing you any symptoms at this time. So for patients who want surgery but don’t have symptoms, you can choose to have your hernia repaired.
Decision #4 – What Type Of Surgery Should I Have?
The two basic types of hernia surgery are open surgery and minimally invasive surgery. Both have excellent outcomes and have been performed for many years. They each have their pros and cons, and some are not indicated for specific types of hernias. As you would expect, there is no one size fits all approach to deciding on open or laparoscopic hernia repair.
Our recommendation to patients who want their hernia fixed, is to be sure to consult with a surgeon who has the training and experience to perform both types of surgery. This will allow you to have all the options available to you and allow for the best outcome.
Decision #5 – Who Should You Trust With Your Care?
This is probably the most important decision you will make with your respect to your hernia. It’s not always easy to know who to turn to, and who to trust with your body. There are important steps a patient can take to minimize their chances of having a recurrent hernia as well as other complications after surgery. The best way a patient can help prevent these from occurring is to find a surgeon who performs a high volume of hernia surgeries. This volume of surgeries clearly imparts a high level of surgical experience which can reduce a patients chance at developing a recurrent hernia and post operative complications. Patients can read more about recurrent hernias and complications from hernia surgery on our ‘Complications of Hernia Surgery‘ page along with how our center minimizes these risks.
So why Dr. Harris for your hernia care?
- Top ranked hernia surgeon in the Country on HealthGrades, Google, and Yelp
- One of the only surgeons in the country to publish his Nationally Recognized Patient Outcome Data – for future patients to review
- One of the highest volume hernia surgeons in the country, leading to the best possible outcome for you
- An active participant in ongoing hernia research projects across the country
- Serves as a trainer for surgeons across the country who are interested in learning or improving their hernia repair skills
Where Do You Go From Here?Dr. Harris from California Hernia Specialists discusses what steps you should take to get your hernia repaired. He discusses how much hernia surgery costs and the next steps to getting you on the road to recovery.
Past Patients and Their Treatment Choices
Once we’ve diagnosed a hernia, the next step is to determine what, if any, treatment is necessary. In the video below some of our past patients discuss their decision for hernia care. We don’t have any patients who discuss watchful waiting since most patients who see us in our office have already decided to have surgery.