Incisional Hernias

Incisional hernias are a type of hernia that can develop after surgery. They occur when abdominal contents push through the scar, either through pressure or due to poor healing. Thought to affect between 10% to 15% of patients who undergo abdominal surgery, incisional hernias cannot always be prevented.

If you want to avoid developing an incisional hernia after surgery, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the risks. Here, you’ll discover some of the main risk factors of incisional hernias, and what to do if you suspect that you have one.

What are the risk factors of incisional hernias?

There are several risk factors associated with incisional hernias. While the overall risk of developing a hernia is relatively low, the following factors can make you more likely to have one:

  • Surgical procedures that create an incision in the abdominal wall
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Certain medications
  • Recent infection
  • Surgical skill and technique
  • Post operative wound infections

As incisional hernias develop due to a weakened abdominal wall, where a surgical cut into the wall has been made. In those who are identified to be at a higher risk of developing one, the surgeon may choose to strengthen the wall with mesh as they carry out the procedure.

Lifestyle factors such as being overweight, and smoking can also have an impact on wound healing. Medications such as immunosuppressants and steroids are also known to increase the risk of incisional hernias.

A recent infection could also interfere with healing, making it more likely a hernia will develop. It’s important to factor in the skill level of the surgeon too. If you have an abdominal procedure carried out by an inexperienced surgeon, the risk of developing an incisional hernia is much higher.

How are incisional hernias treated?

If you do develop an incisional hernia, treatment is available. You will need an additional surgery to replace the abdominal contents back into the abdomen and strengthen the abdominal wall. Scar tissue will be removed, and surgical mesh will be used to help strengthen the wall.

Most hernias will not return after a repair has been carried out. However, there is a recurrence rate of between 5% and 20% for those who have undergone a prior surgical repair.

An incisional hernia repair can be carried out using an open or minimally invasive technique (Laparoscopic repair). The surgeon will discuss your options and help you determine which technique is the best option.

If you have an incisional hernia, or you are worried about developing one, book a consultation with experienced hernia surgeon, Mr Michael Stellakis. He can answer any questions you may have, and assess your risk level prior to undergoing treatment.