A hernia repair is a surgical procedure done to treat a hernia. A hernia develops when fatty tissue or an organ pushes through a weak area in the surrounding connective tissue or muscle wall. Hernia repair surgery is then done to push the protruding tissue back into that which contained it and repair the weakened area. Hernias can occur anywhere but the most common types of hernias are inguinal, incisional and femoral hernias.
Although most hernias do not require surgery, hernias tend to get bigger and can lead to serious complications if they become trapped or strangulated. This is known as an incarcerated hernia. If incarcerated, the hernia can cut off the blood supply to the contents of the hernia, causing life-threatening conditions such as gangrene or peritonitis. Hernia repair surgery may be advised if a hernia is causing pain, or has become strangulated, which can damage the tissue.
A hernia repair can be done through traditional open surgery or using laparoscopic "keyhole" surgery. The laparoscopic approach offers quicker recovery with minimal scarring and is thus Dr Heyns' first choice. Once under general anaesthesia, a few small incisions will be made near the location of the hernia. The abdomen is inflated with air so to provide better visualization of the abdominal organs. Dr Heyns will then insert a thin, tube-like instrument known as a laparoscope, which is fitted with a light and camera. By looking at pictures it sends to a monitor, the laparoscope will help Dr Heyns see the hernia without the need for invasive surgery. Through the small incisions, he will push the herniated tissue back into position and then fix a piece of mesh over the defected and weakened area to strengthen it.
In cases where hernia repair surgery cannot be performed laparospically, Dr Heyns will perform the surgery using traditional open surgery.
When waking from anaesthesia you can expect some pain near the incisions, but if "keyhole" surgery was done you can expect a much easier, quicker recovery. Generally you can expect to go home a few hours after surgery, within the same day. Recovery time is about 1 to 2 weeks but you should be able to go about your normal routine within a week. Dr Heyns will talk to you about caring for your incisions after surgery and any restrictions of activity, but strenuous exercise should wait until after 4 weeks of recovery. Should you experience any symptoms of infection after you have been discharged, such as fever, swelling or bleeding, be sure to contact Dr Heyns.