Men: Can Hernia Repair Wait?


Of all men who undergo the “turn your head and cough” exam, 27 percent will be diagnosed with a hernia – a bulge which can occur from a weakness in the lower wall of the abdomen (the inguinal region) that allows fatty tissue and sometimes intestines to push down into the groin. The bulge can be uncomfortable, especially when patients cough, bend over or lift a heavy object.

Often people with hernias choose to ignore them until they get worse. When a patient is experiencing little or no discomfort, doctors may suggest a “watch and wait” approach. That is, wait to repair a hernia until it gets larger and becomes painful or inflamed.

But, is waiting a good idea? While an inguinal hernia isn’t necessarily dangerous, it doesn’t improve on its own. Weight gain, for example, can cause abdominal fat to push more tissue or intestine through the abdominal wall. Muscles weaken with age. Heavy lifting, smoking and straining can worsen a hernia.

Most hernias require surgery eventually. And in general, it’s easier for surgeons to repair a small hernia, than a large one.

However, some patients may avoid treating their hernias because they fear painful surgery and a lengthy recovery. The good news is — depending on a patient’s overall health — today’s minimally invasive surgical techniques allow hernia repair to be done on an outpatient basis with minimal pain and a short recovery period.

Surgeons at Roper St. Francis Healthcare are recognized for their expertise and excellent outcomes in minimally invasive surgical techniques for hernia repair. Some of our surgeons also offer robotic surgery, which may be a good option.

At Roper St. Francis, our hernia patients are always welcome to speak with a surgeon who will recommend the most appropriate procedure based on age, health and symptoms. Don’t wait until things get worse, contact Roper St. Francis Physician Partners General Surgery to discuss your options.