Hernia Surgery

Hernia Surgery Overview

Video - Hernias

View a video of Dr. Melissa Phillips discussing hernias

Dr. Melissa Phillips, surgeon, talks about hernias and procedures used to repair hernias. In this video Dr. Phillips will answer the following questions:

  • What is a hernia?
  • How would a person know if they have a hernia?
  • How is a hernia repaired?
  • Is the surgical repair of a hernia a complicated procedure?


Approximately 1,000,000 hernia repair operations are performed annually in the United States. Many are performed by the conventional open method. Some hernia repairs are performed using a small telescope known as a laparoscope.  The surgeons at University Surgeons Associates are very experienced with all types of hernias and will tailor the surgical approach to your hernia problem to fit your needs.


  • A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal muscle have weakened, resulting in a bulge or tear. In the same way that an inner tube pushes through a damaged tire, the inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area of the abdominal wall to form a small balloon-like sac. This can allow a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to push into the sac. The hernia can cause severe pain and other potentially serious problems that could require emergency surgery.
  • Both men and women can get a hernia.
  • You may be born with a hernia (congenital) or develop one over time.
  • A hernia does not get better over time, nor will it go away by itself.


  • Types of hernias include groin (inguinal and femoral), belly button (umbilical, periumbilical), upper abdominal (epigastric), the site of a previous operation (incisional, parastomal),  buttock (obturator, sciatic), perineal, flank (lumbar) and other unusual hernias.
  • It is usually easy to recognize a hernia. You may notice a bulge under the skin. You may feel pain when you lift heavy objects, cough, strain during urination or bowel movements, or during prolonged standing or sitting.
  • The pain may be sharp and immediate or a dull ache that gets worse toward the end of the day.
  • Severe, continuous pain, redness, and tenderness are signs that the hernia may be entrapped or strangulated. These symptoms are cause for concern and immediate contact of your physician or surgeon.


The wall of the abdomen has natural areas of potential weakness. Hernias can develop at these or other areas due to heavy strain on the abdominal wall, aging, injury, an old incision or a weakness present from birth. Anyone can develop a hernia at any age. Most hernias in children are congenital. In adults, a natural weakness or strain from heavy lifting, persistent coughing, difficulty with bowel movements or urination can cause the abdominal wall to weaken or separate.  Some of the contributing causes include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Malnutrition
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Family history of hernias
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Undescended testicles
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic constipation, straining to have bowel movements
  • Enlarged prostate, straining to urinate
  • Injury or prior surgery

Related Links and Resources