For most, having an inguinal hernia alternates between being painful and annoying. And as frustrating as this may be, it’s still not always enough motivation for the newly injured to see a doctor. That’s because there’s still a misperception that having a hernia means surgery is inevitable, which ultimately means you’re sidelined.
Not necessarily, says Dr. Scott deVilleneuve, a surgeon with Surgical Associates of North Texas. Traditionally, hernia repair was performed via open surgery and required a lengthy recovery time and a longer wait to return to regular activities, particularly exercise. Today, thanks to advances in minimally invasive or laparoscopic hernia repair surgery, there’s no reason to avoid the doctor and live in pain. On average, Dr. deVilleneuve repairs 20 inguinal hernia repairs each month using minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques. Small incisions mean less pain and a faster recovery, returning patients back to their daily lives much faster.
According to Dr. deVilleneuve, 85 percent of people with an inguinal hernia will need it to be surgically repaired. With open surgery, there’s still a considerable chance patients could have a recurrence of their hernia and require another surgery. With laparoscopic hernia repair, recurrence rates for another hernia are much lower. “In fact, many of my patients get both sides done at the same time to reduce the chance for another hernia surgery in the future,” Dr. deVilleneuve says.
Another big misperception about hernias is that they can only occur during strenuous exercise or after living something heavy. Most people with an inguinal hernia end up have a genetic predisposition for them. “It’s an inherently weak area of the body,” Dr. deVilleneuve says, “For some people, developing the hernia is something that happens regardless of activity level.”
“The good news is hernias are now easily repairable and, for most, won’t return.”
Dr. deVilleneuve says the most common indication you have a hernia is chronic or intermittent groin pain, particularly in men. If pain isn’t present the moment the hernia first develops, then noticing a slight bulge in the lower abdomen or groin region is often the first indicator. “It may look off or funny, even if it doesn’t hurt,” he says. Lifting heavy weight or strenuous exercise may cause the pain to worsen, which is another indicator. The only way to find out for sure is to be diagnosed by a physician. If your primary physician doesn’t require a specialist referral through insurance, Dr. deVilleneuve recommends going straight to a general surgeon for a diagnosis. “In our office, patients can come in and be diagnosed in about five minutes,” he says. “We can go ahead and schedule the surgery so they can look forward to being pain-free.”
With laparoscopic hernia repair, patients can have the procedure on an outpatient basis and go home the same day. The surgery lasts about an hour and requires three small incisions, no larger than 3/4 of an inch long. Most patients are back to work and can resume other activities within two days, including exercise. “Anyone can develop a hernia, from children to seniors,” he says. “The good news is hernias are now easily repairable and, for most, won’t return.”
Dr. Scott A. deVilleneuve, is a top-ranked general surgeon in McKinney, providing patients at Surgical Associates of North Texas with the most advanced treatment options based on their specific needs. As a board-certified surgeon, Dr. deVilleneuve was trained as a general surgeon and is skilled in an array of traditional and minimally-invasive surgery techniques. He chose to focus his specialty on minimally invasive procedures and laparoscopic surgery, including hernia surgery, gallbladder surgery, soft tissue surgery, thyroid surgery, treatment of pilonidal cysts, melanoma and skin cancer surgery, colon resection and diverticulitis surgery, and more.