What are my Options for Post-Pregnancy Hernia Repair during an Abdominoplasty?
Hernia development is not uncommon during pregnancy or childbirth. A hernia is essentially a gap or space in the muscle tissues. It occurs when an organ pushes through a weakness (opening) in the muscle tissues that typically hold that organ in place. Sometimes hernias are first diagnosed when patients visit Specialist Plastic Surgeons to discuss Abdominoplasty surgery after pregnancy (known as a Tummy Tuck).
Where do hernias occur? Hernias primarily occur in the abdomen for men and women.
However, they can also appear in the upper thigh area, belly button (umbilical hernia) area or groin.
Post-pregnancy hernias mean that surgical repair of the abdominal area may be required; but most hernias DO require surgical interventions and repair as a protective measure.
Does a Hernia after pregnancy require Surgery?
Hernias may be managed non-surgically for some patients, but they do NOT go away on their own accord.
So YES, most hernias require SURGICAL repair, especially if in the abdomen area where there is a high risk of getting a strangulated hernia (strangulated intestine), which can be deadly if untreated.
Though the majority of hernias that occur during pregnancy are NOT immediately life threatening for many patients, and tend NOT to impact your fetus, they CAN be quite dangerous to your health under certain conditions. They should be assessed by a GP or Specialist and monitored until you have hernia repair surgery (herniorrhaphy).
- A Hernia is typically non-life threatening – however, a hernia can become life endangering if it become strangulated.
- A Hernia can be managed non-surgically, yet only fully healed via surgical correction.
Hernia Surgery may help prevent potentially dangerous complications from having a surgery, such as reducing the risk of developing a strangulated hernia.
Predisposing factors to developing Hernias during Pregnancy
There are factors which lead some Mums to being more likely to get a hernia during pregnancy. Hernia risk factors include:
- multiple pregnancies with prolonged labor
- large intra-abdominal tumors.3
- heavy lifting
So basically, an abdominal wall hernia occurs when a weakness in the abdominal wall allows your intestine to poke through the gap. This is shown in the illustration below.
Types of Abdominal Area Hernias linked with Pregnancy
- Umbilical Hernias are the most common type of hernia to occur during pregnancy; Umbilical hernias occur at the belly button area (this may feel like a soft bulge around the navel that tends to ache).
- Pera-umbilical Hernias may be near to, but not precisely at, your navel area.
- Inguinal Hernias are less common during pregnancy, but can occur when groin muscles become weakened by pressure from your uterus and tissues bulging through it.
Source of types of Hernias during pregnancy: https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/hernia-during-pregnancy-labor/
Why should you seek immediate Medical or Surgical Help for Your Hernia?
Not all hernias need urgent surgery. However, it’s considered best practice to ask your doctor to immediately assess your pregnancy-related hernia as soon as you believe you might have one.
Depending on the hernia, and your doctor’s assessment of your situation, your doctor or surgeon may suggest a surgical hernia repair sometime after you give birth.
The timing can vary greatly and some people may not require surgery and learn to live with the hernia. But living with a hernia is NOT necessarily the best option – as this can be extremely risky to your health.
- You should seek help in a timely manner for a suspected abdominal Hernia.
- Left untreated, an abdominal area hernia can lead to bowel obstructions (intestinal blockages).
- Obstructions of the bowel due to strangulated hernias are life threatening; these require URGENT medical attention and emergency surgery.
- Obstructions cause severe pain, bloating, constipation and nausea or vomiting.
- Get to a hospital urgently if you have a suspected bowel obstruction.
In fact, it is very dangerous for a portion of the intestine to become trapped in the abdominal wall. Strangulation of the intestine from a hernia can lead to blood flow to your intestines being compromised.
If a blockage of your intestines or a strangulated hernia occurs, your intestinal tissues become infected or blocked and non-functional. If they become inflamed and lead to painful, life-threatening symptoms requiring immediate medical attention and/or emergency abdominal surgery.
What are the potential Medical Management Options for a Hernia?
- Ask your Doctor to evaluate your hernia immediately.
- If there are no untoward symptoms, sometimes Doctors MAY try a conservative approach.
- But the only way to repair a hernia is usually via surgery.
Manual manipulation of hernia may be tried by your doctor
Before considering a surgery, and depending on your doctor and your health, your doctor might suggest manual manipulation of the hernia. This is usually performed by manually pressing the hernia back into place and securing its normal position with a special belt (called a truss) on the affected body part. This may also be a stop-gap measure if you’re waiting for surgery.
- Surgery for Hernia Repair – yes, Hernia Repair can be included in an Abdominoplasty Surgery with a Plastic Surgeon
Surgery is considered if non-invasive methods are not considered suitable or if the risk of a strangulated hernia or inflamed bowel is high – remember, your life could be at risk. Again, there’s a risk in not having your hernia repaired – and if the bowel becomes obstructed or you get a strangulated hernia, your life could be at risk. If you are having post-pregnancy surgery (such as a Mummy Makeover), during your Tummy Tuck, our Plastic Surgeons repair any diagnosed hernias and correct torn abdominal muscles known as diastasis recti. This improves your core strength and can help remedy some of those pesky post-pregnancy concerns such as mild urinary incontinence (or try Mona Lisa Touch Vaginal Laser treatments).
Surgery Repair of an Abdominal Hernia After Pregnancy (Abdominoplasty with Hernia Repair)
If your Plastic Surgeon or other doctor has diagnosed you with a hernia and/or with diastasis recti, and if you’re having an Abdominoplasty surgery after pregnancy (Tummy Tuck surgery), they can assist you with most hernia repair procedures during your surgery.
Ask about this option by phoning our Post-Pregnancy Body Patient Care Team on (03) 8849 1444 to request an appointment with one of our leading Melbourne Tummy Tuck surgeons.
READ our blog on Diastasis Recti and belly bulges after pregnancy or phone us on (03) 8849 1444 to request a consultation.
We also offer Mummy Makeover surgery for breast restoration and excess skin reduction after pregnancy (Tummy Tuck and Breast Reduction, Breast Lift or Breast Augmentation surgery or a combination of these).
Hernia Surgery is called “herniorrhaphy” and is classified into the following:
Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery
- This procedure makes use of a tiny camera and miniaturized surgical equipment to surgically repair the hernia.
- During a laparoscopic surgery, your surgeon closes the hole in the abdominal wall and sometimes surgical mesh is used to help patch the hole to keep your organs protected and in place.
Open surgery for hernia repair
- For men, open surgery is suitable for hernias in which a portion of the intestine has moved down into the scrotum area.
- Your surgeon creates a small incision in your abdomen to access the hernia. Once the hernia is visible, your surgeon pulls the edges of healthy tissue around the hernia and surgically closes it.
- The incision is then closed using absorbable sutures.
What are the Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Hiatal Hernias?
In mild cases of hiatal hernia, lifestyle modifications can sometimes be of help. The following are some strategies that can be used in the treatment of a hernia if your doctor advises (DO consult your doctor, as this blog is general information only and is NOT intended as medical advise nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship):
Diet changes can sometimes be required if you are contending with a hernia
- If you have a hiatus hernia or hiatal hernia, it may be recommended by your doctor to avoid heavy meals and avoid lying down or bending over after a meal.
- Doing so helps prevent backflow of stomach contents especially in the case of hiatal hernia, wherein the acid moves back into the esophagus.
Weight loss as part of Hernia treatments for Obese or Overweight Patients
- Being overweight or obese increases the pressure in the abdominal cavity and weakens the underlying muscles, causing the intestine to protrude. In fact, obesity is a risk factor for hernia development.
- By losing weight, you can easily prevent weakening of the muscles by relieving abdominal pressure.
- Visit newbodyspecialists.com.au for information on weight loss or search for Melbourne Bariatric Surgeons such as Dr Arun Dhir of Melbourne Gastro Surgery, who sees patients in Hawthorn East and Bundoora.
Correct exercises when you have a Hernia – be sure they are supervised by a Physiotherapist or you could worsen your condition
- Talk to your Doctor and your physiotherapist regarding appropriate exercises for hernia.
- Usually, these exercises are designed to help strengthen the body part in which a hernia occurs.
- This can include gentle stretching, walking, supervised pilates and other light exercises.
Want your hernia repaired whilst your having a Mummy Makeover after pregnancy?
Phone us today on (03) 8849 1444 and ask for one of our post-pregnancy body and breast Specialist Plastic Surgeons in Melbourne.
To know more about surgical and non-surgical options for hernia repair, schedule a free consultation with one of our highly trained surgeons now.