Dr. Cole has performed hundreds of hernia surgeries. Over half a million hernia surgeries are performed annually in the United States. A hernia is an opening or weakness in the wall of a muscle, tissue, or membrane that normally holds an organ in place. If the opening or weakness is large enough, a portion of the organ or intestine may be able to push through that area. If you can imagine an inner tube poking through a hole in an old tire - that is what a hernia is like.
Inguinal (groin) hernia: Making up 75% of all abdominal wall hernias and occurring up to 25 times more often in men than women. These hernias occur in the groin area. These hernias get their name from the inguinal crease which is where the top of the thigh joins the torso.
Femoral hernia: The femoral canal is the path through which the femoral artery, vein, and nerve leave the abdominal cavity to enter the thigh. A femoral hernia causes a bulge just below the inguinal crease in roughly the mid-thigh area.
Umbilical hernia: These common hernias (10% - 30%) are often noted at birth as a protrusion at the belly button (the umbilicus). This type of hernia is more common in women. Umbilical hernias can appear later in life or in women who are having or have had children.
Incisional hernia: Abdominal surgery causes a flaw in the abdominal wall. This flaw can create an area of weakness where a hernia may develop. Even after surgical repair, incisional hernias may return.
Hernias by themselves are not usually life-threatening, but nearly all have a potential risk of having their blood supply cut off, therefore, becoming strangulated. If this happens, it becomes a medical and surgical emergency.
For inguinal, femoral, umbilical, and incisional hernias, symptoms may include:
- An obvious swelling beneath the skin of the abdomen or the groin; it may disappear when you lie down and may be tender.
- A heavy feeling in the abdomen that is sometimes accompanied by constipation or blood in the stool.
- Discomfort in the abdomen or groin when lifting or bending over.
What to Expect if Surgery is Required
Please call the office and leave your pharmacy phone number so that we may call in post operative prescriptions for you to have on hand. We will prescribe a pain reliever, antibiotic and stool softener. Depending on your individual situation you may want to start the stool softener one day before surgery (take one tablet in the morning, one @ noon and one @ night).The stool softener is intended to reduce post operative straining while using the restroom so that you do not injure the incision site.
We will also prescribe Mupirocin ointment or cream to be applied twice a day in your nostrils for the five days prior to surgery. Lastly, Hibiclens will be prescribed to wash the abdominal area the night before surgery and the morning of surgery.
Dr. Cole may recommend that you see your primary care doctor or other specialist involved in your care to obtain a surgical clearance.
You should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before surgery. This includes candy, water, coffee, and gum. If there are any medications that you take on a regular basis and are concerned about taking them the morning of surgery, please call Dr. Cole to discuss this with him.
Please bathe or shower prior to surgery. Remove all makeup, jewelry, hairpieces and false eyelashes. Do not use lotions or oils after bathing.
Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to put on and remove.
Dr. Cole recommends bed rest once you arrive home on the day of surgery. Dr. Cole will suggest that you stay indoors and take it easy the first 3 days after surgery. Once Dr. Cole sees you in the office for your 7 day follow up it will be determined the extent of your activities and physical exertion.
Use the restroom as needed.
Gentle stair climbing, if necessary.
Ice pack over the incision to reduce swelling and discomfort. May use constantly for the next 7-14 days.
Medication for pain as prescribed by Dr. Cole, is most effective if taken as discomfort starts to increase rather than waiting for it to become too severe.
Dr. Cole may also prescribe a stool softener to alleviate constipation. Drink a lot of fluid. You may also use Milk of Magnesia or your favorite remedy.
Days 1 – 3:
There will be a clear plastic dressing over your incision. This dressing should be removed 3 days after surgery. Once you remove the dressing you will notice a glue-like substance over your incision. No sutures will be seen as they dissolve on their own. After the dressing is removed, gently pull the catheter out (approximately 4-6 inches.) There will be an intermittent black marks at the tip of the catheter. Once the catheter is removed, place a sterile dressing (bandage) over the catheter exit site. You can take a shower (NO BATH) on the fourth post-operative day, 24 hours after the catheter has been removed.
After every surgery there will be swelling, which is a normal tissue response. Bruising may also be seen under the incision and/or extending into the genital region (penis/scrotum or labia). Again, ice will help significantly. A scrotal support or firm underwear may alleviate discomfort.
You may sit on a sofa or at your desk, but minimize your activity.
No heavy lifting greater than 15 pounds for approximately 6 weeks after surgery.
No driving until after your initial post-operative visit (approximately one week.)
Days 4 – 30:
A ridge of firm tissue will develop beneath your incision. This is part of the normal healing process and will resolve over the next few months.
Massage with Aloe Vera gel for approximately 3-5 months, 2 – 3 times per day. This will help to break down the scarring process.
Should you develop a fever or the wound becomes very swollen, tender and/or red, contact Dr. Cole immediately.
Please call Dr. Cole the following morning to check-in and make an appointment within 7 – 10 days.