I recently found out that I have a ventral hernia in my stomach and now have to undergo surgery in order to fix the issue. My husband already had to have two hernia repairs done at the same site because sadly the first doctor who did the first repairs on both the left and right side area near his hips, botched the surgery and he had to have the right side redone and possibly will have to have the left side redone as he is in constant pain. But this will be my first time dealing with both a hernia and surgery. It started after I gave birth to our second daughter back in July of 2018 when my stomach felt strange as if my muscles hadn’t fully gone back in and would push out of my stomach from time to time. I didn’t think much about it as our lives became busier and I almost forgot about it but whenever I touched my stomach I felt it again and because it wouldn’t go away, I decided that it was time to get checked out. And now I know that I have a ventral hernia but I didn’t know exactly what it was so I went on a hunt to find out what it is and what I have to do in order to fix the issue for me. I knew what they had to do with my husband but I wanted to read more information since my hernia is in a different location from his and I wanted to see if there were any other ways besides the ways he underwent in order to fix a hernia. So this is what I have found out about ventral hernias, the surgeries, and how long it may take me to heal fully.
Ventral Hernia and What Is It
According to my research and my talk with the doctor, a ventral hernia is a hernia in the general stomach or abdomen area. The doctor had asked me if I had any surgeries because of the location in my stomach but I had never had any surgeries before, including no C-sections, so he was a bit stumped, as am I, as to why I have one. But what exactly is a hernia? “A hernia is a protrusion of tissue from one area of the body through the wall that contains it. Hernias may be present at birth due to incomplete closure of a structure, or they may develop later as the result of increased pressure pushing against a weakened area of muscle or its fibrous sheath (fascia).” ttps://www.healthgrades.com/conditions/ventral-hernia
The website that I quoted from and posted above has a lot of great information and helped me with my research about what it is and what is going to happen plus what the different type of hernias are called and where on the body they are located.
The website also states that ventral hernias are “a type of abdominal hernia that commonly occurs along the midline of the abdominal wall, although they can occur at any location on the abdominal wall.” In other words, if you have a weaken area in the abdomen from over use, there is a chance that you can develop a hernia and that you should keep an eye on your body to help your chances, if you do develop a hernia, of catching it sooner rather than later so that you won’t have any issues. There is a strong chance that it can cause more issues if it is left alone and not treated. As I have read and seen in pictures, if the ventral hernia does go unchecked and doesn’t get repaired, there is a chance that your intestines, if that is what is protruding through the weakened wall, can become trapped and can become strangled. If it becomes strangled, then the area will be in a lot of pain, your intestines will lose its blood supply, and it will start to die. You would definitely need immediate care if this happens and you should head into the ER for emergency surgery to help your poor intestines as well as to get you back to being healthy and keep you safe.
What To Look For
Here are a few symptoms to look for in case you think that you may have a hernia or just too keep a watch for for your safety and health.
1. Pain- there can be some discomfort or even pain in the area where there may be a hernia. My husband felt pain for his near his hips both left and right side while I only felt a tiny bit of discomfort for mine if I gently pressed on it. I did however feel a bit more pain after going to the doctors and he pushed around on it but that is a common occurrence.
2. Bulging in the abdomen- I felt bulging in my stomach after I gave birth to our second daughter but at first thought that it was just my muscles not yet returning to their place. But as time went on, the bulging continued and it still felt like my muscles pushing outward which is definitely not normal. If you feel any sort of bulging that isn’t bloating or just feels off to you, please ask your doctor to check it out.
3. Redness of the skin- there can be noticeable redness of the bulge on your abdomen. Personally I never saw any redness whenever I checked my stomach. But it can be a symptom.
4. Enlargement of the area- this means when you apply pressure, the bulge can become bigger. Applying pressure meaning if it’s in your stomach and you push your stomach outward then release and it seems to be bigger to the touch. Like my doctor said it’s like pushing as if you’re having a bowl movement.
These aren’t as severe but they can become more severe if your hernia goes untreated.
More Severe Symptoms That are Life Threatening
Let’s talk about the symptoms that are more severe and more life threatening shall we. These ones are the symptoms where you don’t just make an appointment and wait for he doctor to see you; no these are the symptoms where you need to be rushed to the ER to get instant medical help.
1. Increase in swelling- If the bulge is swelling and it continues to swell, then there is definitely something wrong and you need help. If the swelling is accompanied by your skin feeling tight and even has a red glisten to it, then yes you need a trip to the ER.
2. High fever- Keeping an eye on your temperature if you feel off and feel a bulge can be a life saver. If you notice that your fever has spiked higher than 101 Fahrenheit, go to the ER, no waiting around to see if it will fall with Tylenol or anything like that, just go.
3. Severe abdominal pain- This is the kind of pain where you are laying on the floor, unable to move, and you can’t think straight kind of pain. Definitely make sure that your phone is handy in case you need to call 9-1-1 or even text someone that is in the house with you to let them know that you are are in excoriating pain and need their help.
4. Bowl movements are off- If you haven’t gone or if you have problems going and you have been diagnosed with a ventral hernia, then yes this actually can be a sign that there is something wrong and that you need to seek medical care immediately.
5. Can’t seem to pee- If you or a loved one who has been diagnosed with a hernia or even if you suspect something like a hernia because of a strange bulge in the abdomen and you or that loved one can’t pee, there is something wrong. And this also goes for not just adults, but also children and babies. Yes, sadly even little wee babes can get hernias early on in life. I haven’t looked into that part much yet but I will definitely do more research about that topic soon.
6. Nausea or vomiting- If you are constantly feeling nauseous or even vomiting continuously, you need to get help. A trip to the ER never hurt anyone when this happened and as the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Keep an eye on your health if you are diagnosed with a vernal hernia or even if you suspect something wrong because if can turn from nothing to something life threatening in a split second.
Hernia Repair Surgeries
There are two different surgeries in order to repair the hernia:
1. The first is called a laparoscope surgery which is where the surgeon uses a very thin camera in a tube inside your stomach where the surgeon slips it inside by a small cut on your abdomen and uses that same small cut in order to slide in the instruments he or she needs to work with. The surgeon will then find the area needed for repair, fix the hernia, use a mesh to strengthen your abdomen wall if they believe it is needed, and then stitch up the small cut. You can heal faster from this procedure and you won’t have a scar nor will you be in much pain. You of course will be given an anesthesia so knock you out.
2. The other surgery is where your stomach actually is cut open in order for the surgeon to work on the hernia. The surgeon will give you an anesthesia for this one as well and once asleep will get to work. After your stomach has been opened, he or she will find the hernia, separate it from the affected area, push your insides back into their proper place, and stitch you up with some pretty strong stitches. Of course if there was any damage done to your intestines, the surgeon will cut and repair the intestines as well. Hopefully that doesn’t need to be done. Also another item that the surgeon will use is a type of mesh that is placed over the weakened area in order to help strengthen that area again as well as hopefully prevent the hernia from coming back. Healing from this will take a few days, maybe weeks, depending on if you follow the doctors orders and don’t pick up heavy items or do anything that could prolong the healing process. For this surgery, there is also a possibility that if the hernia is a small one, the surgeon might think that you won’t need to be put fully under and will keep you awake. He or she will give you medication to help you relax, and give you something to keep the pain away like a block of some sort (either spine or epidural) but again you’re awake for the whole procedure. I am really hoping to be put fully under. No thanks on being awake for the surgery.
My Ventral Hernia
As I have stated earlier, I have found out that I have a ventral hernia that has taken residence in my stomach and seems to sit directly above my belly button. I made an appointment with my new doctor (having had issues with a previous one) and went in to get checked out to see what could possibly be going wrong. And I have to say that it isn’t fun hearing your doctor say “Oh yea I can feel your intestines pushing through so yes you have a ventral hernia” while pushing around on your stomach. You can feel my WHAT pushing upwards? I did everything I could not to flinch when I heard that bit of news. But what had caused mine? We think it could be from having two pregnancies, the babies pushing everything out of the way to make room, and weakening the inner abdomen wall. So now I wait while the referral for my hernia repair goes through to my insurance, is approved, and then I can set up the consultation and surgery with one of the surgeons my doctor has recommended for me. And of course I am sitting on pins and needles, wondering which surgery I have to have done; the actual cut open of the stomach or the small cut surgery. But I am hoping to hear back soon about when I can schedule my consultation and hernia repair surgery. For now I must play the waiting game. All I can do to prepare myself is to wait and take deep breaths, try not to scare myself, and to keep myself busy with my two little girls, husband, and with visits to my parents or hanging out with other friends. I can’t do anything yet so here I sit and wait.
But please if you have any of the symptoms above that I have stated whether mild or severe, get checked out so that your doctor can tell you whether or not you have a vernal hernia. And if they are more severe, do not wait! Go to the ER and ask to get checked out right away. Be safe and stay healthy!