Incisional Hernias

An incisional hernia is a protrusion of tissue that forms at the site of a healing surgical scar. This type of hernia accounts for 15-20 percent of all abdominal hernias. At Mount Sinai, our expert surgeons are highly trained all facets of incisional hernia repair. Our team specializes in treating complex cases and recurring hernias, with the goal of providing you with relief from painful incisional hernia symptoms.

About Incisional Hernias

The characteristic “bulge” of an incisional hernia can be identified when you are standing upright or are performing physical activity, such as heavy lifting. Because incisional hernias typically occur at the front of the abdomen, they are considered a type of ventral hernia. In most occurrences, only the abdominal lining protrudes, making incisional hernias less severe than other types. However, incisional hernias do not heal on their own and require surgical treatment to repair.

People who had abdominal surgery are at-risk for developing incisional hernias. They are especially susceptible three to six months following the procedure, when the tissues are healing from the incision. Strenuous activity, substantial weight gain, or pregnancy can cause excessive stress on the healing abdominal tissue and should be avoided during this healing window.

Treatments for Incisional Hernias 

Surgery is necessary to push the protruding tissue back in place, remove any scar tissue, and adhere a surgical mesh on the hernia’s opening to prevent recurrence. At Mount Sinai, our highly skilled surgical team offers patients both open surgery and minimally invasive procedures. The majority of incisional hernias do not return after being repaired; however, a rate of recurrence can range from 5-20 percent in patients who had a previous repair.

Mount Sinai surgeons offer the full spectrum of surgical treatments for incisional hernias, including minimally invasive procedures such as laparoscopic incisional hernia repair. For this procedure, surgeons carefully make a few small incisions (about ½ - 1 inch long) for the laparoscope, which is a tiny camera that projects real-time images onto a television screen, allowing a surgeon to see inside the abdomen without major incisions. In addition to serving as ports for the laparoscopes, the small incisions serve as the portals for the medical instruments that a surgeon will use to cover the hernia with a small piece of mesh so that it does not recur.

General anesthesia is used for all laparoscopic incisional hernia repairs. Patients are awoken immediately after the surgery is finished. Depending on the size of the hernia and the complexity of the surgery, patients either leave on the same day of the surgery or stay overnight in the hospital. As with any operation, complications such as bleeding, infection, injury to the intestines, blood clots, or heart or lung problems may occur. Before surgery, your surgeon will recommend testing to determine if it is safe for you to have the procedure.

You will be able to walk after the surgery, though you will usually need about three weeks before restarting heavy physical activity. Patients usually take one to two weeks off from work after a laparoscopic ventral/incisional hernia repair.