This muscle weakness may be present as a surgical site heals or if a surgical wound fails to appropriately heal and any increased pressure can lead to a hernia. Lifting heavy objects, coughing, sneezing, or straining can cause pressure that may push against the weakened surrounding muscle.
Unlike other types of hernias where organs may bulge through the abdominal wall, incisional hernias are usually less severe with only the abdominal lining protruding through.
Who’s at risk for incisional hernias?
People who have had abdominal surgery like an appendectomy or a cholecystectomy are at risk for developing incisional hernias.While hernias can develop months to years after surgery, people are at the highest risk during the first three to six months, while the tissues are still healing. Avoiding strenuous activities during this time will help reduce the likelihood of experiencing an incisional hernia.
Symptoms and diagnosis
One of the first signs may be a bulge around the incision or under the existing scar. Pain, tenderness, or a fever may be present with an incisional hernia; however, sometimes they are painless when they start to develop.
More severe pain, fever, or nausea could indicate a strangulated hernia, where the protruding structure gets cut off from the blood supply. If this happens, surgery is needed immediately to restore blood flow to the area; however, the majority of repairs can be planned ahead and scheduled around the patient.
Hernias will not heal on their own, and in fact may worsen over time, so surgery is needed to repair the muscle lining. Incisional hernias can be more difficult to resolve because the previous surgery may have compromised the integrity of the surrounding tissues.
Your doctor will take into account the size and location of the hernia, as well as previous operations that you have had and your overall health when deciding the best surgical method. An open or laparoscopic surgery will be performed where the tissue is pushed back into the cavity and a mesh patch is placed to reduce the risk of a recurrence. A laparoscopic surgery is less invasive and has a slightly faster recovery; however, some patients may require an open procedure in order to sufficiently repair the hernia.