A hernia surgeon is a surgeon who specializes in repairing hernias. These surgeons are trained as general surgeons, and then receive additional training in hernia repair. Many can work laparoscopically, through small incisions in the abdomen which admit precision surgical instruments and cameras. Receiving treatment for a hernia from a hernia surgeon ensures a very high level of competency and care for patients, which can improve their prognosis.
Hernias occur when the abdominal wall weakens, allowing the contents of the abdomen to protrude through it. Herniation classically involves the intestines, and it can be very dangerous for a patient. The herniated tissue can die, leading to an infection, and it can also hinder the process of digestion. Hernias appear in people of all ages, and can be caused by a wide variety of activities, sometimes even occurring spontaneously.
When a patient develops a hernia and is referred to a hernia surgeon, the surgeon meets with the patient to discuss the situation and treatment options. A temporary treatment may be provided to keep the hernia in place until the patient can receive surgery. During the hernia repair surgery, the surgeon checks the herniated tissue to make sure that it is healthy, pushes it back into the abdomen, and repairs the site of the herniation so that the tissue cannot protrude again. Classically, this is done by installing a mesh which will reinforce the abdominal wall.
If herniated tissue is damaged, a hernia surgeon may need to excise some of it. If, for example, a loop of the intestines was trapped and developed necrosis, the hernia surgeon would remove the dead tissue and reconnect the intestines above and below the site of removal. In some cases, this may force the surgeon to turn a laparoscopic procedure into an open surgery, to gain more room to see and maneuver. These procedures can also result in special aftercare directions for the patient, to allow the intestines time to heal from the surgery.
After surgery, the hernia surgeon updates the patient on the procedure, and provides check ups at varying intervals to confirm that the hernia repair was effective. The surgeon may need to remove stitches in the wake of the surgery, or may use absorbable stitches which will naturally dissolve over time. Follow up care also includes aftercare recommendations to the patient so that he or she knows how to care for the surgical site, and when it is safe to resume various activities such as exercising and heavy lifting.