An incisional hernia is a bulge that can form in an area where you had surgery. This could be something as small as an incision from laparoscopic surgery. If you had a major surgery where there is a large incision across your body there is also a good chance you will develop a hernia. Incisions cut through normal muscle layers. When they heal they are never as strong as they were originally. Over time weakness can form and the inner lining of the abdominal wall can be pulled up through the hole in the muscles. This causes a bulge with straining, moving, coughing. Symptoms include aching, burning, stretching at the hernia site or surrounding muscles. If the hole is big enough other abdominal organs can come through the hernia. This is why some people can have bowel obstructions because a part of the small or large bowel can get into the hernia. In rare cases the intestines can actually get stuck which is called “incarcerated.” When it is stuck for a long time the blood supply can get cut off, causing the hernia to be what is known as “strangulated. “ In either incarceration or strangulation a hernia requires urgent surgery.
If you notice a lump or bulge that gets bigger with increased activity, especially when you are trying to sit or stand up, talk to your doctor. Not all ventral hernias require surgery! It is good to discuss the size, what is in the hernia, what symptoms you may be having, and your treatment options. That way should you ever require surgery you will have a good idea what to expect.