Hernia Clinic

Hernias are common and become more common
as the aging process takes its toll


What is a Hernia?

Hernia Types

Hernias are seen as bulges in the abdominal wall. Whilst this doesn’t sound very attractive they can also cause symptoms and quite serious complications if they are left untreated. This is why it is essential to talk with your GP if you think that you are developing a hernia. 

How did I get a Hernia?

In the perfect world our abdominal wall is made up of layers of muscle and other firm tissue that encloses our abdominal contents completely. If something occurs that causes an imbalance between the pressure on the inside of the abdomen and the abdominal wall’s ability to contain the pressure then you get a hernia develop. A hernia is simply like an inner tube blowout of a bicycle tyre. There is a defect through which the abdominal contents are protruding.

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Where do Hernias occur?

Umbilical Hernia

The most common sites for women to develop hernias are in the umbilical region, the inguinal (groin) region or the epigastric (upper abdomen) region and a common place to develop a hernia is also a previous incision (e.g. a caesarean section scar) as the abdominal wall has been weakened by previous surgery. Women are a lot less likely than men to develop the common inguinal hernia for anatomic reasons however femoral hernias also occur in the groin region and are a lot more common in women compared with men.

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What should I do about my Hernia?

Inguinal Hernia

Since you have developed a hernia it will not go away despite doing exercises to increase your abdominal wall strength. A lot of hernias can be asymptomatic (not producing any symptoms other than the appearance of a bulge). Surgical repair should be considered for asymptomatic hernias as the natural history is such that a hernia will increase in size and probably develop symptoms as time goes on.  Potential symptoms include a dull aching sensation or a dragging feeling which is often made worse by prolonged periods of standing or heavy lifting or physical activities e.g. vacuuming or lawn mowing.
It is common for a hernia to disappear (reduce) on lying flat. The more serious symptoms associated with a hernia include pain that doesn’t go away when the hernia reduces or a hernia that won’t reduce on lying flat or redness or discolouration of the skin overlying the hernia. All of these symptoms require urgent assessment by an expert surgeon.

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What about surgery for my Hernia?

Hernias have been common for hundreds of years. However the surgical management of hernias has evolved rapidly and even more rapidly in the last 10-15 years.  When previously hernias were being fixed with sutures alone nowadays it is very uncommon to fix a hernia without the use of a polypropylene mesh in order to give added strength to the hernia repair. The mesh is stitched into position and stays there permanently.  Your tissues grow over the mesh and together they create strength where you have a hernia defect. This stops the hernia from coming out and is more than likely a permanent solution to your problem. There has also been the advent and successful development of laparoscopic hernia repairs and whilst it is not essential in all situations it is certainly a good option for most. At The Women’s Clinic we can undertake full assessment of a hernia and discuss the range of options as far as surgical repair is concerned.

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For further information or advice: Contact The Womens Clinic on P: 524 8887, 0800 WOMENS or E: reception@womensclinic.co.nz