How Strenuous Activity After Abdominal Surgery Can Lead to an Incisional Hernia

The last thing you want to think about after undergoing abdominal surgery is complications. However, with any incision, it's possible that problems could arise. One complication of abdominal surgery that you may not be aware of is an incisional hernia.

If you find yourself with a postoperative hernia, Dr. James Rifenbery here at Laparoscopic Surgery, NW can help you get the treatment you need to get back to your busy life.

What is an incisional hernia?

Abdominal surgery requires an incision through your skin and muscles, and it needs ample time to heal. However, in some cases, the muscle doesn't completely come back together. If you try to get back to normal activities too soon, the pressure can cause tissues or organs to protrude through the muscle. This is called an incisional hernia.

There are many symptoms you may experience if you have an incisional hernia, including:

The most visible symptom is a bulge over your surgical site that worsens with coughing, standing up, or lifting something.

You’re most likely to experience this type of hernia 3-6 months after surgery. However, it can happen at any time after that if you put too much strain on the muscles.

What causes incisional hernias?

Incisional hernias are formed when the muscle under your surgical incision doesn't heal properly. This can cause a small opening or gap in the muscle that never completely closes. Over time, that muscle weakens, allowing your tissues or organs to push through the gap.

You're more at risk for an incisional hernia if you do things that put a lot of pressure on your abdominal muscles. Activities that may cause an incisional hernia include:

Any of these things could potentially push your organs through that gap, due to the weakened muscle and the increased pressure the activity causes in your abdomen.

Even if you're feeling great a few weeks after surgery, you should avoid any exercise or activity that puts pressure on your abdomen until you're cleared by Dr. Rifenbery. Healing time is different for everyone, but it's best to avoid heavy lifting and limit your physical activities for at least 8-12 weeks after your procedure. You may even need to make permanent lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of a recurrence.

You have an incisional hernia: Now what?

If you find yourself with a hernia after your abdominal surgery, there are treatments available. Surgery is an option, but not always a necessity. 

Our surgeons may recommend surgery if the hernia:

You should seek immediate medical attention if your hernia becomes incarcerated, meaning the protruding tissue is stuck outside of the gap in your muscle. This type of hernia could quickly become strangulated, meaning that the blood supply to the organs or tissues that are stuck is cut off. This can cause tissue death to whatever is stuck in the hernia, so a strangulated hernia is a medical emergency.

Our office offers several types of surgery for hernias, including laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgery. When you come in for your visit, Dr. Rifenbery will discuss which option is best for you and your specific hernia.

If you're suffering from a hernia after abdominal surgery, call us today at our office in Tacoma, Washington, at 253-234-1586 or book a consultation online.

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