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About 5 million Americans develop hernias each year. Hernias can cause a noticeable bulge under the skin, as well as pain and discomfort. Hernias occur when an organ (most often the intestines) or fatty tissue pokes through a weakened area or tear in the abdominal wall or groin. Most hernias eventually need to be surgically repaired to prevent complications, reoccurrences and other serious problems.

At Atrium Health, our skilled surgeons have extensive experience evaluating and repairing all types and stages of hernias, including complex cases such as recurrent hernias, chronic groin pain, athletic pubalgia (sports hernias) and those requiring complete abdominal wall reconstructions. Physicians from across the country and around the world refer patients to us for treatment based on our experience, outcomes and innovative treatments for all types of hernias.

Our experts are helping shape the future of hernia care

Our doctors are dedicated to providing excellence in hernia repair, and we continually invest in research to offer the most up-to-date surgical techniques. We also study new approaches and repair devices (bioprosthetics and fixation devices) that are helping to advance the field and benefit patients.

Hernia causes and risk factors

Many hernias are the result of a defect or weakness in the abdominal wall that was present at birth. There are also conditions and habits that can increase one’s risk of developing a hernia.

Potential risk factors for a hernia include:

  • Chronic cough
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Straining while lifting heavy objects
  • Straining during bowel movements or urination (going to the bathroom)
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications, such as steroids
  • Previous abdominal surgery

Types of hernias we treat

Hernias have different names based on where they are located. At Atrium Health, we diagnose and treat all types of hernias, including:

  • Inguinal: Located in the groin region, this is the most common type of hernia
  • Femoral: Located in the upper thigh below the crease in the groin
  • Umbilical: Located around the belly button
  • Ventral: Involves the abdominal wall (these hernias can require big operations that few centers are equipped to perform)
  • Incisional hernias: Occur after previous abdominal surgery and poke through a scar or site of a previous surgical incision
  • Hiatial and paraesophageal: Occurs when the upper part of the stomach moves into the chest cavity through the diaphragm

Advanced hernia surgery options

Our skilled surgeons offer a range of both traditional (open) and minimally invasive surgical procedures for hernia repair.

We carefully tailor our treatment approach for each patient. How a hernia is fixed will depend on:

  • The location and type of hernia
  • The extent of the weakness/tear
  • A patient’s unique needs and health status

Types of hernia repairs

Suture repair

Some minor hernias can be repaired using only stitches.

Laparoscopic or robot-assisted hernia repair

Several tiny incisions, usually the size of a dime or keyhole, are made in the abdomen. Small instruments guided by a camera are used to repair the hernia with mesh, stitches and/or mechanical fixation. These minimally invasive procedures can result in:

  • Fewer complications
  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Faster recoveries

Open surgery

An incision is made near the hernia or through a previous incision. If there is protruding tissue, it will be pushed back into place, and our surgeons will repair the weak spot where the hernia occurred.

More complex hernia procedures may involve reconstructing and/or rearranging muscles and connective tissue in the abdomen to repair the hernia. In these cases, surgeons may use a patient’s own tissue (called flaps) and surgical mesh to help strengthen the abdominal wall, restore function and prevent another hernia.

About the use of mesh

Mesh – a woven sheet of surgical-grade material – is often used to strengthen or repair weakened areas in the abdomen and reduce the chances the hernia will come back. Using mesh also reduces pain and tension on the surgical wound. It can be placed through both laparoscopic and open procedures.

Some patients may have concerns about the use of mesh to repair hernias. Our surgeons have extensive experience safely using these materials in thousands of patients. We also follow up with patients to make sure what we do today and long term is safe, prevents hernias from happening again and preserves quality of life.

Expertise you can count on

Our dedicated hernia team offers:

Experience. Hernia surgery is what we do, and we do it well. Our surgical team has more than 100 years of combined experience and performs more than 900 hernia repairs each year.

Innovative treatments. We use advanced surgical techniques that have been proven to provide superior, long-lasting results – even for the most complicated hernias, such as recurrent incisional hernias, hernia repairs requiring mesh excision and hernia repairs related to enterocutaneous fistula conditions.

Recognized leadership. Regularly asked to share surgery best practices, our hernia team has trained thousands of surgeons around the world on simple and highly complex hernia procedures. Adding further value, our team also includes past presidents and current board directors of the Americas Hernia Society, the leading authority of hernia care in the United States.

Comprehensive care. Under our care, patients receive the highest quality hernia evaluation and treatment. For complex hernia cases, we regularly bring together a multidisciplinary team of other surgical specialists, including internists, plastic surgeons, gastroenterologists, orthopedic surgeons, and wound and pain management specialists to ensure the best outcomes.

Personalized care and planning. Surgery is only one part of the treatment plan we provide. We take the time to understand each patient’s needs and help them prepare for surgery so they understand what to expect before, during and after the procedure. This includes the use of innovative mobile apps that allow us to achieve the best results.

Complex hernia repair

Watch Mabry’s story of survival after a near-fatal crash and the complex hernia repair he received from Vedra A. Augenstein, MD.

Understanding a hernia

Our hernia team has developed helpful resources and tools to help patients understand what a hernia is and to help them recover from treatments. Included are 2 mobile apps that patients and surgeons can use to better predict pain and complications after hernia repair, helping improve individualized care and surgical results.

Our Providers

At Atrium Health General & Complex Abdominal Surgery, our expert hernia surgeons and specialists diagnose and treat all types of hernias. With tailored treatments and both traditional and minimally invasive surgical procedures, our skilled surgeons are dedicated to providing excellence in hernia repair.

Meet our team of hernia specialists below and find the best surgeon for you. Use the filters to narrow your search.