SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- Although hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer from hernias each year, many are unfamiliar with the proper treatment for this intestinal inflammation.
"A hernia is basically a hole in your abdominal wall," said Dr. Har Chi Lau, of Hudson Valley Surgical Group, Minimally Invasive Center in Sleepy Hollow. "A lot of people get hernias, not only from lifting heavy loads but from a good sneeze, cough or just aging." A hernia forms when tissues weaken over time and hole forms, allowing fat, more tissue or intestines to spill through. Lau likens the occurrence to a building dilemma: "a hernia is as if the floor gave way in a house, creating a hole and allowing unwanted movement between the basement and the ground floor," he said.
Lau says symptoms vary from case to case, and notes men are more prone to hernias than women. "People will experience groin pain, which may be exacerbated with movements or motion, that doesn’t seem to go away," he said. "When they shower, they may notice a lump in the area. As the hernia gets larger, the pain tends to go away while the lump increases in size."
Hernias can take years to develop, but discomfort varies depending on what is pushed through the hole. A choked off intestine can bring immediate pain, while pieces of fat can be ten years or more in the making. When hernias do reach a level where doctors recommend surgery, Lau recommends a laparoscopic procedure.
"Laparoscopic surgery is usually less invasive than even robotic hernia repair because it stays out of the abdominal cavity by using small incisions," said Lau. By eliminating cutting new holes in the abdomen, surgeons avoid the possibility of new hernias developing at those port or incision sites. "95 percent of our cases are of the minimally invasive laparoscopic variety," said Lau, speaking on behalf of the Hudson Valley Surgical practice.
"The problem with hernia surgery is there are so many variations since no two holes are the same," said Lau. "That’s why it’s important to go to a surgeon with lots of hernia surgical experience.”
As for the recovery process, Lau measures most in weeks, rather than months. "People should be able to do anything they want within two weeks of the surgery," he said.
To learn more about the hernia procedures available, visit HVSG's website.