Hernia Post-Surgery Complications

By Shannon Marks

A hernia occurs when part of the body, such as an organ, protrudes through a weak spot or tear in the muscle containing that organ. Hernias usually appear in the abdominal or groin areas. People who are morbidly obese and those who have had surgical incisions more commonly develop hernias than others. Unless your hernia is surgically corrected, tissues can become trapped within the hernia. According to one doctor-developed, patient education website, more than half a million surgeries, called herniorrhaphies, are done each year in the United States. Fortunately, complications are few.

Infections

An infection following hernia surgery is a possibility. However, the cause of the infection may not have originated from the surgery itself. Most often an infection begins at the site of the incision. It is recommended patients refrain from showering and especially bathing in the days following surgery. The reasoning behind this is to be sure your stitches or staples are not exposed to bacteria. Symptoms of an infection at the site of your incision are redness, swelling, burning and pain. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection.

Bleeding

Having some bleeding in your stool following hernia surgery may look scary, but is not all that worrisome, according to Dr. Jeffrey S. Guy, MD, a general surgeon at the Vanderbilt Burn Center. “A small amount of blood following [this procedure] is not uncommon, but it should not persist,” he says. The blood may come from your incision. If the blood is bright red, you should report your symptoms to your doctor or surgeon. Taking a narcotic pain killer following surgery can exacerbate bleeding, since these drugs are known to harden stools and make them more difficult to pass. Taking a stool softener can help alleviate this problem.

Passing Urine

Rhode Island Hospital reports that although complications occur infrequently, some common problems following hernia surgery include difficulty in urinating and bowel movements. Older men are more likely to have trouble urinating following surgery, due to the effect on the nerves in the bladder during the operation. Normal urination should return within a few days, but in severe situations may require a catheter.

Nerve Injuries

Those who have open hernia repair, or laparoscopic surgery, may experience numbness in their thigh or scrotum. For most, sensation will return, but some patients have lasting loss of feeling. Numbness usually occurs when nerves are damaged during surgery. Because surgeons are aware of the possibility of injuring nerves, they take special care to work cautiously. However, because nerves are so sensitive, even a slight move or pull can cause numbing or other symptoms that persist for weeks or months.

Recurrence

There always exists the possibility of your hernia recurring after repair surgery. It is difficult to prevent the recurrence of a hernia, but there are steps you can take to reduce these risks. According to Rodeo Drive Plastic Surgery, it is important to keep your weight in check, since obese people are more likely to develop hernias. Other ways to decrease your risk of having a recurring hernia is to keep your abdominal muscles toned, be sure to treat chronic constipation and coughing, and consume foods high in fiber.

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