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Faster Recovery From Hernia Repair

Hernia repair patient Tom Thomas was able to ride his dirt bike three weeks after surgery.

Hernia repair is one of the most common surgeries and is usually performed on an outpatient basis—often laparoscopically —resulting in a quicker return to normal activities.

A hernia is a balloon-like protrusion that occurs when part of an intestine or other internal organ pops into an area where it doesn't belong. Most commonly found in the groin, belly button or at the site of a former surgical incision, hernias often create uncomfortable bulges under the skin.

Hernias have many causes. "A person may have a congenital weakness coupled with a mechanism of constant strain such as chronic cough, asthma, straining during bowel movements, pregnancy, excessive weightlifting or difficulty passing urine as a result of enlarged prostate," says James T. Mayes, MD, FACS, a surgeon with the Hernia Program of Surgical Associates at Virginia Hospital Center.

Diabetes, steroid use, smoking, obesity and pregnancy may increase the risk of developing hernias in or near incisions or scars from previous surgeries. In some cases, hernias can become life-threatening if they cause bowel obstruction.

Because hernias do not heal by themselves, surgical repair is usually recommended. "In the old days we pulled tissues together with stitches," explains surgeon JR Salameh, MD, FACS. "Now we use a mesh screen to reinforce the area and close the hole where the hernia is located."

Dr. Mayes used this tension-free technique on homebuilder Tom Thomas last May. Thomas was back on his feet in no time, following laparoscopic repair of an inguinal (groin) hernia. "It was bothering me when I was physically active," says Thomas, 39. "We were going into summer and I ride Motocross. I didn't want to take a long time to recover."

Thomas had surgery on a Friday and worked a full day the following Monday. "I was able to ride my dirt bike over jumps and bumps three weeks after the surgery," he says. "I was riding competitively 12 weeks out."

The surgeons in the Hernia Program have extensive experience in hernia repair, from the simplest to the most complex cases, and offer every type of hernia surgery procedure.

Call 703.717.HERNIA (703.717.4376) for an appointment or visit VHC Physician Group - Surgical Specialists for more information.

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