Should I Have Hernia Surgery Now, or Can It Wait?

You’ve noticed a bulge around the groin or belly-button area, so you have it checked out. Your doctor says it’s a hernia. Now, you’re wondering: Should I have surgery to repair my hernia right away, or can it wait?

Stuart Donovan MD, of the TriHealth Surgical Institute, says don’t delay.

What Happens if I Delay Hernia Surgery Repair?

“Even if you aren’t having any problems with it – with normal wear and tear, exercising, lifting, physical activity or pregnancies – that small hernia, over time, will start to become larger,” Dr. Donovan points out. “A larger hernia is harder to repair.”

Similarly, Dr. Donovan would recommend that someone with a hernia have it repaired sooner, rather than later, so they can recover and get back to their normal exercise routine, instead of suggesting they limit their activity to avoid having problems as they age.

Other activities or medical problems that increase pressure in the belly wall and muscles include:

  • Chronic constipation and straining to have a bowel movement
  • Chronic cough
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Extra weight
  • Poor nutrition
  • Smoking

When do I Need to Have an Emergency Hernia Repair?

In some cases, the sac containing the intestine or other tissue may become stuck in the hole of the abdominal wall and it cannot be pushed back through. This can lead to a strangulated loop of intestine, cutting off the blood supply, in turn, causing that part of the intestine to die.

On the other hand, an incarcerated inguinal hernia may cause bowel obstruction.

“These are true surgical emergencies, so you want to avoid those complications,” Dr. Donovan explains. 

Learn more about hernias in our Health Library:

Tags: Health Tips, Miscellaneous, Prevention and Early Detection, Wellness and Fitness

Last Updated: June 20, 2017