If you’ve had a hernia, you know the telltale symptoms, such as a visible lump in your abdomen or groin, pain and discomfort, heartburn, chest pain, and trouble swallowing. Although it’s not a life-threatening condition, you know it’s something you’d rather avoid going through again if possible.
Unfortunately, hernias have a habit of recurring. Depending on which type of hernia you had, there’s a 3-20% chance it’ll come back.
We’d like to help you avoid that.
At Surgical Consultants of Northern Virginia in Reston, our team of board-certified specialists not only treat your hernia using the most advanced technology and minimally invasive techniques, we arm you with valuable tips to prevent your hernia from returning. Here’s what you need to know.
Why hernias occur
Before we get to the ways you can avoid a repeat hernia, let’s take a look at why you got one in the first place.
Two key factors lead to hernias — weak muscles and excess pressure. Anything that leads to either of these two conditions can lead to a hernia, including:
- Previous surgery
- Chronic cough
- Congenital conditions
Weak muscles and tissues can’t withstand pressure from being overweight, heavy lifting, coughing, and similar activities and conditions, so the tissue gives way and an internal organ pushes through.
Hernias are most common in the abdomen near your diaphragm, but they can occur in your groin, near your esophagus, or upper thigh, too.
How we treat hernias
Repairing your hernia requires a surgical procedure to mend the breach in your tissues. Fortunately, our physicians are highly experienced and use the latest technology to make the repair with minimal trauma.
We use the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System to assist our surgeons and enable them to make precise movements not possible by the human hand alone. The robot doesn’t do the surgery, it just enhances our own skill set by providing a 3D, high-definition view of your hernia on a bedside monitor.
As we move our hands to perform the procedure, the robotic device makes each movement more precise and controlled.
We also perform hernia repairs using a minimally invasive laparoscopic technique that involves tiny incisions and very small cameras and instruments. Both techniques result in a less traumatic surgical procedure that reduces your risk of bleeding and post-op complications.
How to avoid a repeat hernia
When it comes to recovery from surgery, there is no “normal.” Everyone is different, and our goal at Surgical Consultants of Northern Virginia is to work together with you to maximize your healing and minimize any after-effects.
We give you detailed post-op care instructions, and we’re here for follow-up visits and to answer any questions as you heal. Since hernias tend to recur, we also want to make sure you’re well-informed about how to avoid this eventuality. Here are some tips:
1. Lose weight
If you’re overweight or obese, dropping a few pounds can greatly improve your chances of avoiding a repeat hernia.
2. Learn how to lift properly
Incorrect lifting techniques may have caused your first hernia, and it’s likely to cause a second if you don’t change your ways. Learn how to lift safely here.
3. Quit smoking
If you smoke, there are many reasons you should quit, and avoiding a second hernia is one of them. Nicotine lowers your production of collagen, the fibrous structural element in your connective tissues. This, of course, weakens your abdominal wall and makes you susceptible to a recurrence.
Smoking also hinders your ability to heal properly, so your past hernia repair may not be as strong as it could be if you use tobacco.
4. Pay attention to diet and exercise
A fit and healthy body is your best defense against most medical conditions, including recurrent hernias. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding saturated fats, getting regular cardiovascular exercise, and strengthening your muscles optimize your health and make it difficult for your hernia to come back.
If you suspect your hernia has returned, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can schedule an appointment with our experts by phone or online today.