Facing an umbilical hernia repair can be overwhelming due to the various available options. Open hernia repair and laparoscopic hernia repair are the two main techniques employed in contemporary medical practice. Although both strategies aim for the same end goal—repairing the hernia—it’s not always straightforward to choose between them.
Let’s examine these procedures in detail to help you understand better and make an informed decision about your treatment.
What is an Umbilical Hernia?
An umbilical hernia is a condition where a portion of the intestine or fatty tissue protrudes through a weakness in the abdominal muscles near the belly button or the umbilicus. This condition is quite common, particularly in infants.
However, adults are not exempt; they can develop umbilical hernias due to various reasons such as obesity, repeated heavy lifting, and multiple pregnancies.
A person with an umbilical hernia might notice a bulge in the area around their belly button. This bulge can cause discomfort or pain, especially when bending over, coughing, or lifting heavy objects.
In severe cases, it can lead to complications, such as intestinal obstruction, necessitating immediate medical attention.
How Is An Open Hernia Repair Performed On An Umbilical Hernia?
The open technique is considered the traditional method of hernia repair. This procedure typically begins with general anaesthesia, ensuring the patient remains unconscious and feels no pain during the surgery.
Once anaesthesia has taken effect, the doctor makes a single incision near the umbilical area. The size of this incision can vary but is usually large enough to allow the doctor to access the hernia and perform the necessary repair. This method’s name—”open” repair—derives from directly opening the affected area.
After making the incision, the doctor gently pushes the protruding tissue back into the abdominal cavity. A synthetic mesh is often put in place to ensure that the tissue doesn’t push back out again, causing a recurrent hernia. This mesh acts as a reinforcement to the abdominal wall, providing additional support to the weakened area.
After ensuring the mesh is securely in place, the doctor stitches the incision back up. Since open hernia repair involves only a single cut, any scarring post-procedure is typically localised. The scar often fades with time and may even be hidden in the skin’s natural folds near the belly button.
Recovery times after open hernia repair can vary widely. It depends on multiple factors, including the size of the hernia, the patient’s overall health, and how well they follow post-operative care instructions. However, on average, most people can expect to resume their normal routines within 3-6 weeks.
How Is A Laparoscopic Hernia Repair Performed On An Umbilical Hernia?
Laparoscopic hernia repair is a more recent technique that is usually less invasive than an open repair. Like its traditional counterpart, this procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia.
Instead of one larger incision, laparoscopic hernia repair involves four small incisions made in the patient’s abdomen. A laparoscope—a long, thin tube equipped with a high-resolution camera at its end—is inserted through one of these incisions. The camera transmits images to a monitor, giving the doctor a clear view of the hernia and the surrounding area.
Through the other three incisions, the doctor introduces specially designed surgical instruments. These instruments push the herniated tissue back into its place inside the abdominal cavity.
As in open hernia repair, a synthetic mesh is frequently used in laparoscopic procedures. This mesh strengthens the abdominal wall, reducing the risk of future hernias.
Since the incisions used in laparoscopic hernia repair are smaller than those in open repair, the resultant scarring tends to be minimal. There are more incision points, but these are small and typically heal with less visible scarring.
Recovery time after laparoscopic hernia repair can be slightly quicker than after open hernia repair, allowing some patients to return to their normal activities within 1-2 weeks. However, individual recovery times can vary widely, depending on factors such as the patient’s overall health and the precise nature of the hernia.
Which Technique Should You Opt For?
Both techniques aim to alleviate the symptoms and potential complications associated with an umbilical hernia. Therefore, the choice between them often hinges on various personal and medical factors.
One of the key differences between the two procedures is the nature of the incisions and the resultant scarring. Open repair involves a single, larger cut, while laparoscopic repair entails four smaller incisions.
Another consideration is cost. Laparoscopic procedures often involve more sophisticated instruments and equipment, potentially making them more expensive than open procedures. However, the actual cost can vary significantly, depending on factors such as your choice of hospital, ward class type, and insurance coverage.
As for recovery, laparoscopic repair might offer a quicker return to normal activities. However, individual recovery can depend on many factors, so it’s essential to discuss this with your doctor.
Umbilical hernia repair, whether open or laparoscopic, is a proven, effective means of treating an umbilical hernia. Each technique has its advantages and unique considerations.
If you have an umbilical hernia, consider scheduling an assessment with our team to better understand your health. Contact us directly via WHATSAPP or call our CLINIC for assistance.