What is a hernia?

Hernia” is just a fancy word that really means hole. Everyone’s abdominal wall is made of layers, the skin, the adipose tissue, and the muscles. Behind the muscle there is a very strong layer that is called fascia. That lining is supposed to keep everything inside your abdomen that is supposed to stay inside. A tear in that fascia can lead to content that should be inside the lining to protrude through to the outside of the abdominal wall. 

What causes a hernia?

In general, life can cause a hernia! More specifically, heavy work, wear and tear, previous surgery, pregnancies, or other medical conditions can lead to hernias or increase the risk for a hernia. 

Signs and symptoms of a hernia

Typically a patient feels pain and may also be aware of a bulge at the hernia site.  Daily activities may be limited due to pain.

Should you see a doctor for a hernia?

If you are experiencing pain or have a bulge in your abdomen or groin, it is important you see a doctor. We recommend your primary care physician or a hernia specialist for consultation. Your doctor can evaluate you and advise you on the best treatment for you.

How is a hernia treated and is surgery necessary?

Not all hernias need surgery. Hernias can be watched after proper consultation if they do not affect the patient’s quality of life. Surgery, however, is the best treatment to have the best chance of return to a normal life.

If a hernia is not causing any discomfort or symptoms to the patient, it can be watched. It is crucial that you have a proper consultation with a physician. Your physician can provide you with key information and discuss the risks and benefits of treatment. It’s also important that you know the signs to watch for that could indicate an emergency situation. 

What type of surgery is best to repair hernias?

Hernia surgery is based on some key tenets that should always be considered: strong reinforcement and low tension. A surgeon must reinforce the abdominal wall without creating extra tension. In some patients, a permanent or biologic patch may be used to ensure adequate overlap to the hernia without adding extra tension to the repair.

There are different surgical approaches that can be considered for hernia surgery, especially for complex hernia such as those that arise after surgical procedures, recurrent hernias, or multiple hernias. Hernia repair can be performed through traditional open surgery.

However, there are also cutting edge, minimally invasive techniques in laparoscopic and robotic surgery. These options allow a surgeon to tailor the procedure to each patient. This ensures long-lasting results and a faster return to work and normal activities of daily life for patients.

Can hernias be prevented?

While hernias can’t be prevented, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing a hernia or experiencing one again. Obesity, smoking, and diabetes are all considered risk factors for hernias. Making positive lifestyle changes can not only reduce your risk of hernia but other conditions as well. 

Hernia surgeons near you

At The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island our trained hernia surgeons offer simple and complex hernia surgery with minimally invasive and robotic techniques not available elsewhere in Rhode Island. In addition, our team offers the benefit of pre-operative optimization, same day discharge, decreased medication use and faster return to daily activity, with long-lasting results.

Learn more about our hernia treatment here


Marcoandrea Giorgi, MD and Andrew Luhrs, MD

Marcoandrea Giorgi, MD is a general and bariatric surgeon specializing in robot-assisted surgeries. 

Andrew Luhrs, MD, is a general and bariatric surgeon specializing in surgery for weight loss and hernia repair.