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Still Waiting for Your Hernia to Go Away on Its Own? 5 Hernia Myths Debunked

September 01, 2022

If you’ve noticed a new lump in your abdomen that’s not just from a heavy meal, it could be a sign of something more serious. With more than one million hernia surgeries performed each year in the US alone, the condition is more common than you might think.

Hernias are a weak spot in the abdominal muscles that allows internal organs to protrude. If you have a hernia, you will notice a bulge or a lump in your abdomen, which is caused by certain medical conditions, strenuous physical activity, prior surgeries and even genetic predisposition.

So how much do you know about hernias? Here are five common myths that might be keeping you from seeing a doctor.

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Hernias only affect men.

“Some types of hernia affect men more frequently than women, and vice versa,” said Artem Dyatlov, MD, general surgeon with Hartford HealthCare’s Medical Group in Bridgeport. “Certain medical conditions make hernia development more likely.”

While women can develop hernias, men are more at risk because they typically do activities that are more strenuous. As a result, more than one in four men will develop a hernia at some point. One major risk factor is persistent abdominal pressure, which can result from morbid obesity.

I can push my hernia back in.

Some hernias, known as reducible hernias, are able to be pushed back in. While these might seem less severe to the patient, they still require surgery and can lead to serious complications.

“Any reducible hernia sooner or later may become incarcerated (part of the abdominal tissue becomes trapped in the hernia) or even strangulated (blood flow to the trapped abdominal tissue becomes cut off) requiring emergent surgery,” said Dr. Dyatlov.

Surgical repair is the only effective treatment for hernias — but it is highly effective, with hernias recurring in less than 10% of patients.

Many different techniques are available for hernia surgeries, ranging from traditional conventional approaches to laparoscopic and robotic-assisted procedures using flexible fiber-optic instruments and minimal incisions.

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If I ignore my hernia, it will go away.

“A hernia will never go away on its own,” said Dr. Dyatlov. “Although on rare occasions some hernias can be watched, the rest will require surgical repair at some point. Some of them sooner, some of them later.”

Hernia repair is essential, since even a small hernia will not cure itself and will grow larger and possibly more serious over time.

Hernias are not serious.

“If left untreated, oftentimes a hernia will get larger and it is possible that it could lead to more serious complications,” said Dr. Dyatlov.

The most dreaded complication is strangulation. This occurs when the muscle wall squeezes the bulging tissue. As a result, the blood supply is cut off and the tissue begins to die.

Surgery for hernias is dangerous or painful.

Robotics has allowed us to make a significant progress in the treatment of hernias over the last decade,” said Dr. Dyatlov.

When hernia surgery is straightforward, the surgery is done on an outpatient basis, meaning you go home the same day. You can expect your recovery to be from one to three weeks.

If your surgery is more complex, you may need inpatient surgery, which means you will stay overnight or several days in the hospital. In this case, your recovery would take a bit longer, anywhere from three to six weeks.