Hernia surgery: how is it performed, and when is it required?

Written by: Ms Daniela Zanotti
Edited by: Conor Lynch

In this article below, Ms Daniela Zanotti, a highly experienced upper GI and general surgeon, outlines the main symptoms of a hernia before going to detail how a hernia is usually treated.

What are the symptoms of a hernia?

Usually, the first thing that patients notice is a lump in the groin. This lump could be completely asymptomatic, or, on the other hand, may cause a certain degree of discomfort or pain, usually during strenuous activities. Occasionally, patients experience problems passing urine or opening their bowels.


How is a hernia treated?

Small and asymptomatic hernias could be treated conservatively, with patients needing to be mindful of avoiding heavy lifting as much as possible. Sometimes, the hernia can be controlled with a truss (padded support belt), but, without surgery, the hernia will more than likely become larger and more symptomatic as time progresses.


When is surgery required for hernias?

Emergency surgery for hernias is required in case of complications such as bowel obstruction or incarceration (when the hernia can’t be reduced/pushed back into the abdomen).


An elective repair is strongly advised in symptomatic patients whenever the hernia has increased in size (becoming more symptomatic), if there have been episodes in which the hernia couldn’t be reduced easily, and in patients that are required to perform strenuous daily activities.


Can you explain how hernia surgery is performed?

Regardless of the approach used (open or laparoscopic), the main aim of an inguinal hernia repair is to get the hernia back inside the abdomen and to strengthen the muscle layer. This is achieved by inserting a synthetic mesh, to cover the weak area where the hernia passed through.


What is the recovery period like after hernia surgery?

It depends on the size of the hernia and whether the surgery was minimally invasive or not. On average though, it takes up to one week to recover from the operation.


During this period, patients can walk normally, although it might be painful going up and down stairs at the beginning. Depending on the type of job they have, patients should be able to return to work after two to four weeks.


A rest period of between four to six weeks from heavy lifting/sport is advised after surgery, and so some patients might require a prolonged time off work.


Does this procedure have a high success rate?

Inguinal hernia repair is a very common procedure and has a very high success rate. The risk of recurrence is less than two per cent. Complications are not frequent at all.


To book an appointment with Ms Daniela Zanotti, simply head on over to her Top Doctors profile today

By Ms Daniela Zanotti

Ms Daniela Zanotti is a leading Upper GI and General surgeon based in Lincoln and Nottingham. Ms Zanotti’s areas of expertise include acid reflux, gallbladder surgery, hiatal hernia surgery, abdominal wall hernia repair (incl. incisional hernias), laparoscopic hernia surgery and achalasia.
Ms Zanotti first qualified with a medical degree from the University of Brescia in Northern Italy, before going on to train in various hospitals in the UK. She has completed 3 specialist upper-GI fellowships in prestigious hospitals such as University College London Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas Hospital in London, and the Oxford University Hospital NHS Trust. She is also a fellow of the European Board of Surgery.

Ms Zanotti joined the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust in 2020 where she developed and implemented the Upper-GI service for the Lincolnshire population, in close collaboration with the University Nottingham Hospitals Trust.  Ms Zanotti is the upper-GI (oesophago-gastric) cancer MDT lead for the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Ms Zanotti currently holds private clinics at the BMI Lincoln Hospital and the Park Hospital in Nottingham. She also provide endoscopy service at the Spire Hospital in Nottingham. She has extensive experience as a consultant Upper GI surgeon thanks to years worked within the NHS.
Ms Zanotti is also highly esteemed in the field of medical education. She functions as both a Clinical and Educational Supervisor for the Foundation Doctors and more senior Trainees. As a Consultant, she supervises surgical trainees in the fields of Upper GI and General Surgery on a daily basis. While completing her fellowship at the Oxford University Hospital NHS Trust, she tutored both 4th and 6th years medical students. She was also an assessor for final-year medical students. In addition to her clinical work and teaching, Ms Zanotti has also published numerous medical articles in peer-reviewed journals.

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