When tissues bulge through a weak opening in your abdomen, that’s referred to as a ventral hernia. Any point on your abdominal wall can be a candidate for this to happen.
You are at risk of a hernia any time you lift a heavy object, but increased risk comes from pregnancy, obesity, prior hernias, abdominal surgeries, bowel injuries, and a family hernia history. Many people are also born with a congenital defect that will cause the abdominal wall to be thin from birth.
Symptoms of a ventral hernia can take time to occur and may in fact never show. Symptoms that do present include mild abdominal discomfort, full-on abdominal pain, skin and tissue bulging outward in the abdominal area, vomiting and nausea.
These may increase when standing or lifting heavy objects and you may see a bulging growth in the abdomen that feels painful to touch.
Diagnosis of the hernia can require an abdominal ultrasound, an abdominal CT scan or an abdominal MRI scan in order to assess the damage to your abdominal wall and signs that indicate if you have a ventral hernia.
If you have a ventral hernia, you are going to require surgery. Not treating a ventral hernia leads them to grow until they cause major complications.
If left untreated, a ventral hernia can grow enlarged, and they become more and more difficult to treat as they do. The swelling can trap the contents of the hernia, which is referred to as incarceration. This can then cause strangulation, where the blood to the tissues is cut off and the tissue can die if not treated.
There are three options for repairing a ventral hernia.
Open hernia repair involves an incision made in the abdomen, through which the surgeon will push the tissue back through the abdomen. The surgeon will then sew the affected area up, usually reinforcing it with a synthetic mesh before closing the incision.
In a laproscopic surgery, the surgeon will make several small incisions in the abdomen to send through a small tube equipped with a camera. The surgeon then inserts several tiny instruments through the other incisions to actually repair the hernia, guided by the camera.
Mesh replacement surgery sees a surgeon pushing the tissue back into the proper place, and then sewing in a mesh that reinforces the area and keeps the tissue where it’s supposed to be. This surgery has proven to be effective and long-lasting.
With no complications, the patient may need a few weeks of rest afterwards before they can start their normal activities. Avoid heavy lifting and strain to the abdomen during this time.