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Hernia Surgery

An inguinal hernia will not heal on its own. If you have symptoms or the hernia is growing, you may need surgery.

There are 2 types of surgery for an inguinal hernia: traditional open hernia repair (called herniorrhaphy) or laparoscopic hernia repair.

  • Open hernia repair. Your surgeon will cut the skin at the groin. He or she will push the bulging intestine back into your belly. Then, he or she will stitch close the opening in the muscle wall. Sometimes your surgeon may fix the weak area and make it stronger with steel mesh or wire (hernioplasty).
  • Laparoscopic hernia repair. Your surgeon will make a few small cuts (incisions) in your lower belly. He or she will insert a thin flexible tube (laparoscope) into one of the cuts. The tube has a tiny video camera in it that is attached to a screen. This lets your healthcare provider see inside your belly. He or she uses long thin tools in the other cuts to repair the hernia with mesh.

Inguinal hernias that are not causing any symptoms can be closely watched. If symptoms occur, your surgeon can repair the hernia through open surgery or laparoscopic surgery.

Some surgeons recommend repair of all groin hernias in women. This is because it can be difficult to tell an inguinal hernia from a more complicated type of hernia (femoral hernia) in women.

You will need surgery right away if your small intestine gets stuck in the groin (incarcerated hernia) or if blood supply to your small intestine is blocked (strangulated hernia).

In some cases a hernia may come back after surgery. This is less likely to happen when mesh is used to support the weak belly muscles.