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Tulane Doctors - Hernia Surgery Center - Frequently Asked Questions


What is a hernia?

A weakness or tear in the muscles
Can affect men, women and children of all ages

Hernia Signs and Symptoms

  • Small bulge or swelling appearing under the skin in the groin area, scrotum or abdominal area 
  • Can feel worse when you stand for long periods or if you strain such as when lifting heavy objects
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation or blood in the stool
  • Urinary difficulties
  • Only your physician or hernia specialist can properly diagnose whether the symptoms that you are experiencing are related to a hernia.
What causes a hernia?

May be the result of a weakness in the abdominal wall that may have been present from birth, a strain or tear, or result from previous surgical incision.
Causes and risk factors can include:

  • Aging
  • Injury
  • Incision from a previous surgery
  • Previous hernia
  • Pregnancy
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Strenuous physical activity
  • Coughing
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Straining during bowel movement or urination
  • Exercise
  • Fluid in the abdominal cavity
Do women get hernias?

Yes. Women experience hernias as well, although due to anatomical differences a woman's hernia may present differently than a man's.  

How long does the surgery take?

Hernia repairs are generally performed on an outpatient basis and take between one to two hours, depending upon the hernia location, complexity and the health status of the patient.  

Why Hernia Repair Surgery?

Hernias do not heal by themselves and if left untreated they can sometimes result in serious complications.  The surgical option that is chosen is tailored to meet each patient's needs and reduce the chance of a recurrent hernia.

The majority of hernia surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis.

Using the traditional open surgical approach or using a minimally invasive (laparoscopic) approach.

What is Tension-Free Hernia Repair?

Utilizes a sterile, woven mesh material made in the form of a patch that goes under or over the area of muscle weakness to provide additional support and strength.
The mesh acts as a foundation for new growth of the patient's own tissue.
Hernia mesh is very sturdy and strong, yet extremely thin.  It is also soft and flexible enough to allow it to easily conform to the body's movement, position and size.
The result is a strong and effective repair that significantly reduces the chance of a recurrent hernia and allows for a quicker recovery.

Why a Plastic Surgeon?

In cases that require it, hernia surgery or abdominal wall reconstruction is performed in conjunction with plastic surgery to re-align muscle and tissue to help eliminate hernias or to remove the excess amounts of skin.

When can I return to normal activities?

Recovery after a hernia surgery depends upon the location and type of hernia, the repair technique used, and the overall health status of the patient.  The Tulane Hernia Center utilizes the most advanced surgical techniques and materials available, allowing for a quick return to everyday activities.

When can I go back to work?

Your return to work depends upon the type of work that you do and how physically demanding your job is.  You will be examined by your surgeon after your surgery and will review your timeline for returning to work.  The tension-free approach to hernia repair allows for a shorter recovery time and reduced post-operative discomfort.  Our goal is for you to return to work and everyday activities as quickly as possible.

When can I return to athletic activities?

The Tulane Hernia Center encourages patients to walk and participate in light activity as soon as possible after surgery.  The return to full participation in athletic activities depends upon the location and type of hernia, and the surgical technique used, as well as the athletic activity that you wish to participate in.  Just as each hernia repair is tailored to the needs of the patient, the return to full athletic participation will be unique to each patient as well.  Generally, a return to activity is done in stages, with intensity increasing each week after surgery.

Can I travel after surgery?

Many patients come to the Tulane Hernia Center from across the region and from out of state.  Generally patients are permitted to travel short distances after they are discharged as long as they are not operating a vehicle.  

Does Tulane offer Guest Housing for a patient's family?

Yes, the Deming Pavilion offers guest housing and accommodations are provided to patient family members on a first come first served basis. For reservations or information regarding the Deming Pavilion Guest Housing, please contact Patient Relations at (504) 988-5934 from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday.