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What Type of Hernia Do You Have?

Hernias are commonly classified by anatomical location.Learn about the different types of hernias

Inguinal Hernia Products

Learn about innovative mesh products with proven,effective repair.

Ventral Hernia Products

Learn about the mesh products available to your surgeon that help to ensure healing and recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about hernias or hernia repair? Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to get answers and put your mind at ease. You’ll find helpful information about hernias, symptoms, products, recovery, and more.


About Hernias

A hernia is a weakness or tear in the abdominal muscles that allows fatty tissue or an organ such as the intestines to protrude through the weak area. Hernias can occur in many places in the body, most often in the groin. Sometimes, a weak spot in the abdominal wall can even be present at birth.

Hernias occur most often in the groin, abdomen, around the navel, or through previous sites of abdominal surgery. For more information, see Types of Hernias.

Each hernia is different, and the symptoms of a hernia can appear gradually or suddenly. Different people feel varying degrees of pain. Some people even feel that something has ruptured or given way. Other symptoms may include:
* Feelings of weakness, pressure, burning, or pain in the abdomen, groin, or scrotum
* A bulge or lump in the abdomen, groin, or scrotum that is easier to see when you cough and disappears when you lie down
* Pain when straining, lifting, or coughing

There really is no guaranteed way to prevent getting a hernia or to prevent recurrence of a hernia. Some hernias are due to a congenital condition. The best thing you can do is stay healthy by eating right, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly. For more information, read Prevention.


Many hernias begin as a congenital defect, a weakness in the abdominal wall that a person is born with. If you have a weak point in a muscle wall, pressure from extra body weight, coughing, heavy lifting, or from straining during bowel movements can force the muscle apart, allowing part of an internal organ (or some other part of the body) to push its way through. Once that happens, the defect (hernia) will continue to enlarge until it is repaired.
Hernias aren't really hereditary. You may inherit a tendency to have weak abdominal muscles from one of your parents, but hernias themselves are either acquired or congenital. Acquired hernias are caused by the wear and tear of living, such as childbirth, weight gain, and other muscle strain. Congenital hernias happen when you're born with points of weakness in the abdominal wall. Children's hernias are almost always congenital. Many adult hernias are also congenital but may have been too small to detect at an earlier age.
You may have heard that hernias are caused by heavy lifting, but that is a myth. While heavy lifting and other strenuous activities can aggravate a hernia, they don't actually cause them. Most hernias are the result of a weakness in a muscle that exists long before a hernia even appears. Many hernias are present at birth. Other factors, including advancing age, injury, and surgical incisions can help weaken muscles too.
Chronic coughing from the lung irritation caused by smoking can put you at increased risk for a hernia. It can also cause a hernia to recur. Heavy smokers also tend to develop abdominal hernias at a higher rate than non-smokers. That's because exposure to nicotine can help weaken the abdominal wall.
Men are more prone to inguinal hernias than women because of basic differences in anatomy. The area where hernias occur most often has a very different function in men than in women. The internal inguinal ring, through which a man's testicles descend before birth can be a natural weak spot of the anatomy that is at risk. The peritoneum, a sac which envelopes the abdominal cavity, is another possible weak spot.


It is necessary and important to have a hernia repaired through surgery. If a hernia is left untreated, it may increase in size and become more painful. Most importantly, any hernia can lead to more serious, even life-threatening complications. If you think you have a hernia, see your doctor. Your doctor can confirm the diagnosis and discuss your treatment options.

Surgery is the only way to cure a hernia. A hernia will not go away on its own. The good news is that today, many types of surgical hernia repairs are available. However, your surgeon may not always recommend it, depending on your medical history. For more information, read Methods of Repair.

Surgeons use several hernia repair techniques today that fall into three basic categories: tension repair , tension-free repair , and laparoscopic tension-free repair . Your doctor may suggest one or several techniques as options for treating your hernia. Understanding all of your options will help you to decide which surgical method is best for you. To learn more, read Types of Hernias and Methods of Repair.
As with any surgery, infection and/or bleeding are possible. The risk of complications increases if the patient smokes, does drugs, is a heavy drinker, is very young or very old, or has other medical conditions. In addition, there is a slight chance that the intestines, bladder, blood vessels, or nerves may be injured during the procedure, or that extended scarring may occur. For more information, see Risks & Complications.

The type of anesthesia you receive depends on your general health, the type of hernia repair being done, and the facility where you have surgery. Most laparoscopic tension-free repairs require general anesthesia. Tension and tension-free repairs can be done with general, local, spinal, or other types of anesthesia.



The recovery period depends on what type of hernia you have, the procedure used by your surgeon, and your normal level of activity. Under many circumstances, you will have your surgery on an outpatient basis and be back at home the same day. You may feel discomfort walking, especially up and down stairs, for the first few days. You also may not be able to drive or do anything strenuous for the first week. Some patients experience minimal pain or discomfort and are back to normal in just a few days. Other patients may take longer to fully recover, especially if their normal routine involves strenuous activity. This topic is best discussed with your surgeon.

How soon you can return to work depends on the kind of work you do. Full recovery from hernia surgery may take anywhere from one to six weeks. If you have a very strenuous job or one that requires heavy lifting, it may be several weeks before you can get back to work. On the other hand, if you have a desk job, you may be back to work in as little as three days. Ask your doctor for advice on when to return to work and resume your normal daily activities.
Driving is generally not recommended for at least 48 hours following surgery because the effects of anesthesia are still present in the body. Driving also puts a strain on the incision site, so your doctor may ask that you wait a while to drive. In addition, if you are taking pain medication, you may not be able to drive or operate machinery. Ask your doctor when it is safe for you to resume driving.
Depending on the type of sport you play, you may be able to return to low-impact, noncontact sports in just a few days. It may take one to two weeks to return to sports that require greater exertion. You may be able to resume competitive and contact sports as early as two weeks after surgery. It is important to ask your doctor when you should return to sports.