Hernia FAQ

What is a hernia?

A hernia is the bulging of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening due to the weakening of the muscle wall.

Most hernias are located in the abdominal region and there are many different types of hernias. The image shows the different areas where hernias may occur and what they are called.

Who is at risk of getting a hernia?

Anyone can have a hernia but some individuals are more prone to developing one. If you are lifting, coughing, straining, overweight, or a smoker you may be more susceptible to developing a hernia. Hernias can also appear following surgery (at the incision site) or in women who are pregnant.

What are the symptoms of a hernia?

Symptoms typically include a bulge, swelling, or pain at the site of the hernia. The bulge may get bigger when standing or straining and can “go away” when you lie down. In some cases there are no symptoms at all.

Do all hernias need to be fixed?

Hernias will not correct themselves but some may be asymptomatic. Temporary relief may also be achieved by changing position or wearing a supportive device. However, if you are experiencing symptoms you may need to see a medical provider to establish whether or not surgical intervention is needed. If left untreated a hernia can get larger and may cause serious complications.

How do you fix a hernia?

There are different types of surgical techniques that can be used to repair a hernia. These include:

  • Laparoscopic repair- is a minimally invasive technique where small incisions are made instead of one large incision. The surgeon uses a camera and other surgical instruments to see and repair the hernia.
  • Open hernia repair – a single, larger incision is made so the surgeon has a direct view to repair hernia. This may be necessary in more complex cases.
  • Robotics- Could enable laparoscopic techniques to be used in more complex abdominal procedures.


Mesh is commonly used to reinforce and fill the gaps left by hernias. Mesh is made from a variety of synthetic and biologic materials.


The type of surgery will differ with every case and is based on many factors. For this reason, it must be determined by you and your physician.

What about complex hernias?

“There are all different kinds, shapes and forms of hernias,” Fullerton said. “Some of them can be very complex; they may have been repaired before on multiple occasions, aren’t healing properly, are infected or may involve bowel perforations. These are the kinds of complex cases that our surgeons are committed to repairing so we can strengthen the quality of hernia care in central Illinois.”

What is the recovery time?

Depending on the complexity of the hernia and your past medical history, a hernia repair may be done as an outpatient surgery or may require an overnight stay in the hospital. Recovery time is often 1-2 weeks with light activity and up to 4 weeks for strenuous work or exercise.

How is the Advanced Hernia Center different?

Memorials Advanced Hernia Center is a joint initiative center with the renowned SIU School of Medicine and Springfield Clinic surgeons to provide the highest levels of expertise for the good of the patient “The concept behind the Memorial Advanced Hernia Center is to offer patients a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and outcome-focused approach to their hernia, including the related conditions and health issues that often accompany and contribute to hernia formation,” Dr. John Mellinger. The center participates in the American Hernia Society Quality Collaborative, which seeks to improve hernia care delivered to patients through patient-centered collection data, ongoing performance feedback to clinicians, and improvement based on analysis of collected data and collaborative learning.

What if I have existing medical problems?

The center provides a multidisciplinary approach including specialized services such as bariatrics, pulmonary, plastics, diabetic management, smoking cessation, physical therapy, advanced wound and stoma care, nutrition counseling and pain management. Our hernia experts will keep your primary care physician informed every step of the way to ensure a seamless transition in your care.

When and how can I schedule surgery?

After an initial consultation with a hernia expert, you and the physician will determine the treatment plan that is best for you. If surgery is recommended, Memorial Advanced Hernia Center will work with you to schedule a time that is convenient.

What about office visits after my surgery?

Typically your physician will want to see you back for a post operative visit. This may occur anytime from 1 to 6 weeks post operative, depending on patient and physician preference.

What if I have other questions?

For more information, call 1-844-3HERNIA(343-7642).