Hernia Surgery FAQs

What is a Hernia?

A hernia is an area in the abdominal wall that is weak, resulting in a bulge under the surface of the skin. There are three areas where this can occur:

  • groin region, referred to as inguinal hernias
  • belly button, referred to as umbilical hernias
  • area of a previous surgical incision, referred to as incisional hernias

What Causes Hernias?

Hernias can be caused by:

  • a congenital (from birth) weakness in the abdominal wall
  • prior surgery
  • heavy lifting or straining during bowel movements

There is no race or sex that is at a significantly greater risk of developing hernias.


Symptoms may include:

  • abdominal pain when lifting heavy objects
  • abdominal pain when urinating, or during bowel movements (when straining)
  • a bulge under the skin in the abdomen or groin area


Surgery is the only effective treatment for hernias. Hernias do not get better, and do not go away. In fact, they can get worse. Severe pain that does not go away may indicate the need for immediate emergency surgery.

Treatment options include:

  • laparoscopic surgery — the preferred method, as recovery is much quicker; can be done on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient does not have to remain in the hospital
  • open surgery — may be necessary, in which case the patient will need to remain in the hospital for a few days


Outpatient surgery for hernias usually involves discomfort in the area of the incision for a few days to a week. Each person recovers from surgery differently. Open surgery, which does require hospitalization, can take considerably longer.


Complications may include:

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • injury to internal organs