Umbilical Hernia and How to Repair it
What is an umbilical hernia?
I suffered with an umbilical hernia several years ago, so this article is written from personal experience and what I went through. An umbilical hernia is where the abdominal wall behind the belly button area becomes damaged. This can cause the naval area to bulge out. Although umbilical hernias are more common in children, I shall concentrate on this type of hernia in adults. Parts of the fatty tissue of bowel can push through a weak part of the abdominal wall. Causes of this can be:-
- Multiple pregnancies. When a woman is carrying more than 1 baby, this can cause a hernia in the umbilical area.
- Coughing can cause pressure in the abdominal area which can cause an umbilical hernia.
- Obesity. Obesity in both adults and children has a higher risk of getting a hernia in this area, compared to people of average weight and height.
- Heavy lifting. Lifting heavy objects can also cause this, so take proper care when lifting.
Visible symptoms can be a bulge in the belly button area. As you can see in the picture above, this is quite small, but in some cases it can be rather large. Usually this is soft can be popped back in. People can also experience pain in the abdominal area. In severe cases, the hernia can be come strangulated, in which case emergency care is needed. A strangulated hernia is when the intestine becomes trapped in the hernia pouch, thus cutting off the blood supply to the intestines. Another symptom could be vomiting. In my case, I did not suffer with vomiting, but I was in severe pain due to my hernia becoming strangulated. And as any food I was eating was unable to pass through me, this caused the pain and in need of immediate attention.
Repairing the hernia
The type of hernia repair I had for my operation is called hernioplasty. This is when they repair the hernia with mesh around the hernia to reinforce the area. Hernioplasty can also be known as tension-free hernia repair. The organs are pushed back into their original position and a synthetic mesh is added to the area to act as a support. As my hernia had become strangulated, I was taken to A & E (Accident and Emergency) and operated on within the hour. An open incision was made on my stomach area and my hernia was repaired as detailed above.
If, however, you have a small hernia, the operation will not be as extreme as mine. Hernia repairs can be done by keyhole surgery. Or a small incision is made at the base of the belly button and either the bowel or fatty tissue is pushed back in. This generally takes about half an hour to perform.
What risks are there with repairing an umbilical hernia?
As with any operation, there are risks to take into account. The risks to take into account are:
- Blood clots
- Injury to the intestines
- Allergic reaction to the anesthesia
Depending on the severity of the operation will all depend on the recovery process and the advice your Doctor will give you. On a personal note, I spent 3 days in hospital where I was not allowed to eat anything. Then when they started me on food, I was only allowed to eat soft food like soup, jelly and ice cream. For minor hernia operations, you could be going home on the same day. The hospital may give you painkillers to take home with you. Your doctor will advise you on things like when you can return to work, start exercising and lifting things etc. But certainly, rest will be advisable for the first few days after surgery.
Although it is advisable to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for about 4 - 6 weeks after the operation, light exercise like walking will be fine.
© 2018 Louise Powles