A hernia is when part of the stomach swells up through the diaphragm and into the chest. It can lead to severe acid reflux or GERD symptoms. Sometimes, these symptoms can be treated with medicines. If those don’t work then your doctor may suggest surgery as an option.
What is the reason for a hernia surgery?
Surgery can repair a hernia by taking your stomach back into the abdomen and making the opening in the diaphragm smaller. The surgical procedure may also involve surgically reconstructing the esophageal sphincter or eliminating hernial sacs.
However, not everyone who has a hernia requires surgery. Surgery is typically reserved for people with severe cases that haven’t done well to other treatments.
If you have bad symptoms as a result of the hernia, then surgery may be your only option.
These symptoms might also include:
narrowing of the esophagus
How can you prepare for a hernia surgery?
Your doctor will give you all the necessary information you need about how to prepare for your surgery. Preparation basically includes:
walking 2 to 3 miles per day
not smoking for a month prior to the surgery
not consuming clopidogrel (Plavix) for at least one week prior to surgery
doing numerous breathing exercises multiple times per day
not taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) one week before surgery
Generally, a clear liquid diet is no t required for this surgery. However, you can’t eat or drink for at least 12 hours before the surgery.
How is a hernia surgery carried out?
Hernia surgical procedures can be done with open repairs, laparoscopic repairs, and endoluminal fundoplication. They are all done under general anesthesia and take 2 to three hours to finish.
This type of surgery is more invasive than the laparoscopic repair. During this surgical procedure, your surgeon will make one large surgical incision in the abdomen. Then, they’ll take the stomach back into place and manually wrap it around the lower part of the esophagus to create a tighter sphincter. Your doctor may have to put in a tube into your stomach to keep it in place. If so, the tube will need to be taken out in 2 to 4 weeks.
In a laparoscopic repair, recovery is faster and there’s less risk of infection due to the fact that the procedure is less invasive. Your surgeon will have to make 3 to 5 small incisions in the abdomen. They’ll put in the surgical instruments through these incisions. Guided by the laparoscope, which transmits images of the internal organs to a monitor, your doctor will pull the belly back into the abdominal cavity where it belongs. Then they will cover the upper section of the stomach within the lower portion of the esophagus, which creates a tighter sphincter to keep reflux from occurring.
Endoluminal fundoplication is a recent procedure, and it’s the least invasive option. No incisions will be made. As a result, your surgeon will insert an endoscope, which has a lighted camera, through your mouth and down into the esophagus. Then they’ll fix small clips at the place where the stomach joins the esophagus. These clips can help prevent belly acid and food from backing up into the esophagus.
How is the recovery process like?
At the time your recovery, you’re given medication that you should only take with food. Many individuals experience tingling or burning pain near the site of the incision, though this feeling is temporary. It can be treated with NSAIDs, including over-the-counter options like ibuprofen (Motrin).
After surgery, you need to wash the incision place gently with soap and water daily. Avoid baths, hot tubs or pools and stay with shower only. You’ll also have a planned diet meant to prevent the stomach from protruding. It means eating 4 to 6 small meals per day instead of three large ones. You basically start on a liquid diet, and then gradually go to soft foods like mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs.
You’ll need to avoid:
drinking through a straw
foods that can lead to gas, such as corn, beans, cabbage, and cauliflower
You doctor will likely give you breathing and coughing workouts to assist in strengthen the diaphragm. You should perform these daily, or in accordance to your doctor’s instruction.
As soon as you’re able, you should walk regularly to avoid blood clots from forming in your legs.
Since this is a major surgery, a full recovery can take 10 to 12 weeks. That being said, you can continue normal activities sooner than 10 to 12 weeks.
For example, you can start driving again as soon as you’re off narcotic pain medication. You can resume work in about 6 to 8 weeks. For more physically demanding jobs that need a lot of hard labor, it may be closer to three months of rest, then you can resume.
What is the outlook for hernia surgery?
Once the recovery period is over, your heartburn and nausea symptoms should reduce. Your health provider may still advise that you avoid food and beverages that could trigger GERD symptoms, such as acidic foods, carbonated beverages, or alcohol.
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