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What Is a Hernia?

A hernia is a hole or defect in the abdominal wall muscle and fascia (the dense connective tissues overlying muscles).

Many people believe a hernia is the bulge that you see on inspection of the area and that surgery removes/excises this. In fact, the bulge is fat or bowel from inside your abdomen that protrudes through the defect.

Surgery is performed to bring these protruding contents back into the abdomen and patch the hole. Since the mid 20th century, it has been the gold standard to use a mesh to patch the hole rather than simply bringing the edges of the defect together with sutures, as the chances of the hernia coming back have proven to be far lower with mesh repairs, also known as tension-free repairs.

Hernias almost always develop at inherently weak or vulnerable areas on the abdominal wall. These areas become stressed with routine day-to-day wear and tear ultimately creating a hole and eventually leading to discomfort or a noticeable bulge.

These locations includes the belly button due to the presence of your umbilical cord as an infant, the groins (particularly in men) because your testicles descend from your abdomen into your scrotum as an infant, and at prior surgical incisions on your abdomen as these tissues never regain 100 percent of their strength.

Have questions about Hernias? Schedule your consultation with one of our board certified surgical experts today, (540) 347-2805.

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