Incisional hernias can occur near or along surgical scars in the abdomen. Although they don’t usually cause any serious problems, they can be unpleasant.
The incision will have been made in order to get to an internal organ such as the appendix, or a caesarian section. So an Incisional hernia is not the same as a Recurrent Hernia.
Incisional hernias may occur months or years after an abdominal operation. You can usually only see a small lump or swelling near the site of the scar at first. The lump appears when you cough or strain, and then goes away again. Over time, though, it might get bigger and start hurting.
Most incisional hernias don’t cause any serious problems. In rare cases, parts of the intestine might get trapped in the opening of the hernia, blocking the passage of stool (obstruction) or cutting off the blood supply (strangulation). Large incisional hernias can also make it difficult for you to breathe or move normally.
Did you know?
Depending on what kind of operation was done, up to 15 out of 100 people develop an incisional hernia after having abdominal surgery. Most incisional hernias occur in the first year after the surgery.
How do incisional hernias develop?
Most surgical wounds heal well, leaving the abdominal wall just as strong as it was before the operation. But if the cut that was made in the abdominal wall doesn’t grow back together tightly enough, the abdominal wall may be weakened in that area. If the scarred area can then no longer withstand the pressure in the abdomen, tissue or parts of organs might push through the gap that arises and bulge out.
The risk of this happening mainly depends on the type of scar and the sewing technique used during the initial operation. Most incisional hernias occur after open abdominal surgery, where a large incision (cut) was made across the middle of the abdomen. Other factors that increase the risk include older age, having other medical conditions too, and poor wound healing. Overweight people are also more likely to develop incisional hernias because the pressure and strain on the scar tissue is greater.