By Lucas Beffa, MD, general surgeon at Kent Hospital and medical director of the Hernia Program at Care New England

A hernia occurs when there is a tear or weakness in the abdominal wall muscles, between the chest and hips or groin region, at which point intestines or fat can push out through that hole and create a bulge. This bulge or protrusion is generally known as a hernia. Though hernias can be painless, they can also cause significant discomfort and can be life altering.

Hernias can occur all over the body, but the most frequently seen area in adults is the groin, which is more commonly referred to as an inguinal hernia.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), inguinal hernias are more often found in adult males, with about 25 percent of males and two percent of females developing an inguinal hernia in their lifetime.

While hernias are not necessarily dangerous, once diagnosed it is recommended that you seek evaluation by an expert, as they can lead to rare but serious complications. The natural progression for inguinal hernias is for them to become increasingly bothersome and painful. Even if they do not hurt now, they are likely to become painful in the future, thus prompting surgical repair.

There are two main reasons to surgically repair any hernia: one is that it causes you physical pain, and two is that it worries you thus causing you psychological pain.

The good news is, since hernias are a common medical issue, hernia repair is one of the most routine operations in general surgery. Rather than suffering in silence, today’s technologies have made it safe, effective, and long-lasting to surgically treat hernias without the fear of significant complications, such as large incisions, chronic pain, or lengthy hospital stays.

Instead of repairing hernias through open surgery, hernias can now be treated robotically or laparoscopically. This type of surgery is minimally invasive,  and with advancements in surgical technology, we now have the ability to fix many hernias that traditionally would require a large open incision through several small incisions. This affords many advantages to the patient including less pain, faster recovery, less post-operative complications, and an earlier return to normal activities. My goal as a hernia surgeon is to provide each patient a safe and long-lasting hernia repair to get you back to feeling yourself as quickly and safely as possible.

The Hernia Program at Care New England offers a multi-disciplinary approach to care, providing the latest in surgical techniques (including robotic and laproscopic), a team of board-certified surgeons, an optimized patient experience, and focus on recovery through an Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) pathway.

Watch Dr. Beffa’s video for more information on hernias and today’s treatment options.