Treatment for hernias : A guide to Hernias

At one time, hernias were treated with a truss: this is a type of belt or stretchy material which is designed to support the hernia and prevent it from increasing in size.

However, these have been replaced by surgical treatment. Hernia repair surgery is a commonly performed surgery and is very successful. It can be done as ‘day surgery’ which means that you will be able to return home on the same day.

Hernia repair can be performed under a local or general anaesthetic. This type of surgery is known as ‘herniorraphy’.

Two types of surgery for hernia repair

There are two types of procedures for treating hernias which are:

These are both discussed as individual sections.

What type of hernia procedure will you need?

This will depend upon the type and size of hernia you have, your current state of health and the experience of your surgeon. He or she will recommend the most suitable procedure for you based upon these factors.

For example: if your health is poor then a local anaesthetic is a safer bet than a general anaesthetic.

He or she will discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure as well as any pre-operative/post-operative preparations on your part.

There are advantages and disadvantages with both procedures so it is a case of weighing these up as well as considering the advice given by your surgeon.

Keyhole surgery is an attractive option as it means less downtime after the procedure and is less painful as well. It is also recommended for patients who have undergone hernia repair previously but their hernia has recurred.

However, it requires a great deal of skill on the part of the surgeon as there is a greater level of risk as compared to open surgery.

This section of the guide discusses these procedures in more detail.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

There are non-surgical forms of treatment which include antacid medications, acid-suppressant medicines and other forms of medicine. These are discussed in greater detail within this section.

Hernia treatment: Private clinic or NHS

Hernia surgery can be undertaken on either the NHS or at a private clinic. Private treatment means that you will be treated quickly but you do have to pay for this and it isn’t cheap.

Hernia repair surgery can cost from £1,500 to £2,700 which depends upon the type of hernia procedure required. For example, surgery to repair an inguinal hernia may cost around £1,500 whereas umbilical hernia surgery may cost around £1,700 or more.

Costs of private surgery will depend upon a variety of factors which include:

  • Type of hernia repair needed
  • Skill level and experience of the surgeon (a surgeon with a top reputation will cost more than a less well known surgeon)
  • Location of the clinic
  • Facilities of the clinic
  • Medication
  • Aftercare

These are all things to consider when choosing a clinic. If you are looking to ‘go private’then take some time to find the right surgeon and clinic for you. Read up beforehand, research online and talk to other people who have undergone hernia surgery. Ask your GP for his/her advice. Draw up a shortlist of clinics and visit each of these in turn. Take a list of questions with you to ask the surgeon and make a note of the answers. If you are not sure about anything the surgeon mentions or you require further clarification then ask for this.

If you are wondering what to ask then here are a few suggested questions:

  • Do you have professional accreditation?
  • How many years have you been performing this type of surgery?
  • What are your success rates?
  • Do you carry out other types of surgery?
  • Which is the best procedure for me?
  • What are the risks of this surgery?
  • What type of anaesthetic will I need?
  • Will I have to stay in hospital?
  • How much pain will there be after surgery?
  • What aftercare is provided?
  • How long will it be before I can return to work?
  • How long will I have to wait before I can resume everyday activities, e.g. sport?
  • What does the quote include/exclude?

If you feel that he/she is less than sympathetic or is more concerned with forcing you to make an instant decision then look elsewhere. A good, reputable surgeon should be concerned with your needs and wellbeing and not the ‘bottom line’i.e. profit. If you feel that money is the driving factor rather than your health then visit another clinic.

When you receive a quote for surgery, check to see what this includes and what it omits. But don’t be governed by price alone: consider the clinic and its facilities and the type of care you are likely to receive.

If you decide to be treated on the NHS then your GP will refer you to an NHS surgeon. This means a period of time on a waiting list before you are seen by a surgeon. Once you reach the top of that list, an appointment will be arranged for you with the surgeon.

You will have a consultation with the surgeon before booking a day and time for your surgery.

Will a hernia go away by itself?

It can be easy to assume that a hernia will go away by itself, especially if you experience little or no symptoms but sadly, this isn’t the case. A hernia can develop into a potentially dangerous condition such as a strangulated hernia which would require emergency surgery.

This is covered in more detail in our dangers of not treating a hernia section.

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