California Hernia Specialists Logo
"Specialty Care
for
Hernia Repair"
navshadow
Next Button
Prior Button

Frequently Asked Questions About Hernias

    You can watch our most common frequently asked questions as videos on our YouTube channel:

        California Hernia Specialists YouTube Channel
California Hernia Specialists Page Divider

About Hernias and Symptoms of Hernias

(Click a Question to view the Answer)

What is a hernia?

A hernia is a weakening of the muscles and supportive tissues of the abdominal wall. This weakening can allow fat and sometimes internal organs to push through muscle creating a hole in the muscle. This hole is called a hernia.

Patients can watch the short video below to see an explanation of what a hernia is by Dr. Todd Harris at California Hernia Specialists.

    

What are the symptoms of a hernia?

Although every patient has different symptoms from their hernia, the most common symptoms are a bulge in the area and pain. Sometimes they can present without any pain, just as some hernias do not bulge and are difficult to see and feel. Read much more HERE or watch our short video below.

    

Who can get a hernia?

Anyone can get a hernia.  This applies to men and women, young and old. People who have a weakening in the muscles from birth are more likely to get a hernia. Heavy lifting and heavy activity can put an excessive amount of strain on the muscles and supportive tissues of the abdominal wall increasing the chances of developing a hernia. Although proper lifting techniques can help reduce hernias from forming, nothing can absolutely prevent a hernia from occurring.

What are the different types of hernias?

The most common locations for hernias are in the groins (inguinal), and at the belly button (umbilical).  This is because the muscles in these two areas are already the thinnest and under the most stress during activities. Hernias can form in other locations such as the ventral region, the epigastric region, and through prior surgery sites.

Dr. Harris discusses the most common types of hernia in the short video below.

    

How does a hernia form?

Over time, muscles under a lot of stress can become thin, weaken, and eventually allow a small tear or hole to form. Initially, this tear or hole may be very small and unnoticeable.  However, with time, the hole enlarges until it is large enough to allow fat or intestines to push through creating a hernia. This most commonly happens in the groin and at the navel due to the excessive amount of stress on the muscles in those two locations.

How do I know if I have a hernia?

Patients who have a new, or long standing lump in the groin or the abdominal area might have a hernia. If this lump is able to be pushed back inside, but continues to recur, it may indicate that a hernia is present. However, some patients may have only pain in the groin, the thigh, or the lower abdomen. Of course the only way to know if you do, or do not have a hernia, is to be seen by a specialist.

What are the different symptoms of a muscle strain versus a hernia?

A muscle strain is often located above the groin area and is not associated with a bulge. Ice and then heat may improve the symptoms of a strain. Hernias tend to not improve with conservative therapy.

What should I do about my symptoms?

Patients who only have pain in the groin and the lower abdomen, should try ice immediately, and then heat after about 48 hours. Taking anti-inflammatory medications like Advil, Motrin, or Aleeve can also help with a muscle pull or strain. However, the pain associated with a hernia often doesn't improve since the pain is caused by pressure on the nerves in the groin.

When should I be seen for my symptoms?

Patients who have had pain for over a week with no improvement despite ice, heat, and pain medications might have a hernia. We recommend that these patients be seen by a hernia specialist to be evaluated. Any patient with a bulge in the groin or in the abdominal area should be seen immediately.

What tests are needed to diagnose a hernia?

Most patients do not need any tests or x-rays to diagnose a hernia. The patients symptoms (pain, pulling, aches, etc) and the examination is usually enough to make an accurate diagnosis of a hernia. Typically ultrasound tests and other x-rays are not able to clearly see a hernia and are not helpful in the diagnosis.

Can women get a hernia?

Yes. Women can get weakening of their abdominal muscles and develop hernias just like men.

Divider

Having a Hernia Consultation

(Click a Question to view the Answer)

Does my insurance cover a hernia consultation and hernia repair?

All insurances cover hernia evaluations and, if needed, hernia surgery. Hernia treatment is never considered 'cosmetic' or 'elective'. We have never had an insurance carrier deny a consultation with our center.

What happens during a hernia consultation?

Dr. Harris will listen to your symptoms including the duration, severity, and location of any pain or bulges. A simple groin and abdominal exam is required to evaluate the extent of the hernia. You will discuss your current activity level and what is expected for you at work or athletically after your surgery. Dr. Harris commonly works with athletes and will take a thorough sports history as well.

What do I need to do about my hernia?

Unfortunately hernias do not go away on their own (with the exception of small children and some hernias developed during pregnancy). Over time most hernias get larger and often will need to be repaired. Medical studies have shown that although there is a low chance of an asymptomatic (non-complicated) hernia becoming an emergency, many patients will ultimately request hernia surgery due to worsening pain, and enlargement of the hernia itself.

In the short video below, Dr. Harris explains what patients need to do about their hernia.

    

Can I just watch my hernia without surgery?

Some patients have been living with their hernia for many years without any problems. Although there is a chance that any hernia could become an emergency (incarceration or strangulation), the chances of this happening remains small. However, most patients eventually present to a surgeon once the hernia becomes uncomfortable and is interfering with their quality of life. Since hernias do not go away on their own, and they constantly get larger, doctors recommend that they are repaired before they become large and painful which makes recovery much more difficult.

    

Do I need to get an ultrasound or other x-ray before my consultation?

Most patients do not need any tests or x-rays to diagnose a hernia. The patients symptoms (pain, pulling, aches, etc) and the examination is usually enough to make an accurate diagnosis of a hernia. Typically ultrasound tests and other x-rays are not able to clearly see a hernia and are not helpful in the diagnosis.

How long does a typical consultation with Dr. Harris take?

One of Dr. Harris' promises is to do everything we can to minimize your wait time. We know your personal time is valuable and we try to ensure that each patient is seen as close to their appointment time as possible. Patients are required to complete Federal and California required forms along with a comprehensive medical history at their initial visit. After the required paperwork, patients are usually seen within 10-15 minutes. Most visits take about 15-20 minutes but will vary depending on the complexity of the hernia.

Do I have to participate in hernia research?

No. Dr. Harris and California Hernia Specialists is one of 17 centers in the country which is participating in the Americas Hernia Society Quality Collaborative. This study is looking initially at patients with incisional hernias and will expand into other more common hernias in the near future.

Americas Hernia Society Quality Collaberative

Although participation is voluntary, we strongly encourage patients to enroll. No extra steps or tests are required of patients in the scheduling process. Plus, patients are able to contribute to the advancement of hernia surgery. Without individual patients' participation, no research studies would ever be completed. Patients are the most important aspect of the research team.

You can learn more on our Research page.

Do you treat patients from outside of your area?

Absolutely. We are one of the busiest practices in the country with patients from outside of our immediate area. Our staff can make arrangements for your consultation, your surgery, and your follow up within one quick visit.

You can read more on our Travel page.

Do I need a 'pre-authorization' from my insurance prior to a hernia consultation?

Almost all patients are able to self refer themselves for an evaluation with Dr. Harris. Only a few managed care organizations require a formal referral from a primary care physician. Since most doctors encourage patients to have their hernia's repaired, a referral to California Hernia Specialists is usually very easy to obtain. If any patient experiences difficulty in obtaining a required referral, our office is happy to work with individual patients to expedite the process for you.

Where is my consultation performed?

Our entire practice is located in Newport Beach, adjacent to John Wayne Airport. Your consultation, surgery and follow-up are all within our comprehensive facility.

What separates a consultation with Dr. Harris from other surgeons?

Although Dr. Harris performs a variety of surgical procedures, one of his primary specialties is hernia repair. Also, with an accredited surgery center inside of our office, California Hernia Specialists can provide patients with a comprehensive approach to hernia surgery not offered at most offices in Southern California.

Read more HERE

Divider

About Hernia Surgery and Costs

(Click a Question to view the Answer)

What are the risks of hernia surgery?

Although hernia surgery is one of the most common and safest surgeries performed in the United States, there are always some small risks. There is a less than 1% chance of infection in the hernia site as well as recurrence of the hernia in the future. Chronic pain after hernia surgery used to be a more common complication. However, with current techniques by hernia specialists, chronic pain occurs in less than 1% of patients as well.

What are the different types of hernia surgery?

The two basic types of hernia repairs are open hernia surgery, and laparoscopic hernia surgery. In open hernia surgery, the skin and muscles are opened by the surgeon. The hole and weakness in the muscles is identified and repaired. The muscles and skin are then closed over the hernia repair. In laparoscopic hernia surgery, a small camera is used to look at the weakened muscles and the hernia from inside of the abdomen. The hernia is repaired from the inside without opening the skin or the muscles. View a comparison chart of open and laparoscopic surgery HERE or watch the short video below.

    

Which hernia surgery is best for me?

Both open hernia surgery and laparoscopic hernia surgery are excellent treatments for abdominal wall hernias. Whether patients should choose one method over another is a matter of discussion each patient should have with their surgeon.  There are benefits and downsides of both types of hernia repair. Patients should be seen by a surgeon who can offer both options to every patient.

How much does hernia surgery cost?

Hernia surgery is done in an operating room at either a hospital or a surgery center. The fees for surgery include the surgeons charge, the operating room charges, and the anesthesiologists charge (for sedating or putting patients to sleep). Although these charges vary from hernia to hernia, the average surgeons fee is about $1500.  The operating room charges for all care before, during, and after the surgery is about $2000.  The anesthesiologists fee is roughly $500 for a total hernia repair charge of about $4000.  Laparoscopic hernia surgery can cost more due to the supplies required.

In the short video below, Dr. Harris explains what hernia surgery costs at California Hernia Specialists.

    

Where would my hernia surgery be performed?

Most of our hernia surgeries are performed within our own AAAHC accredited ambulatory surgery center (ASC). California Hernia Specialists is one of the only facilities in the country with an accredited surgery center within our own clinic. Most other 'hernia centers' utilize a hospital or surgery center located outside of their actual 'center'. By performing our surgeries within our own ASC, we can provide the highest quality of care to our patients. Due to each individual patients' insurance, some of our surgeries are performed at nearby hospitals or surgery centers. Read more HERE

Can I just watch my hernia without surgery?

Many patients have been living with their hernia for many years without any problems. Although there is a chance that any hernia could become an emergency (incarceration or strangulation), the chances of this happening remains small: around 1%-2% per year. Since hernias do not go away on their own, and they constantly get larger, doctors recommend that they are repaired before they become large and painful which can make recovery more difficult. Also, most patients present to a surgeon eventually after the hernia becomes uncomfortable and interferes with their quality of life.

In the short video below, Dr. Harris explains what patients need to do about their hernia.

    

I've heard about chronic pain after hernia surgery. What causes chronic pain and what is the chance this will happen to me?

Over the years hernia surgery technique as well as the materials used during hernia surgery have improved dramatically. As recently as 5 years ago, doctors were using heavy plastic meshes placed over the area of the hernia to help repair the weakened muscles. This heavy plastic mesh caused a significant reaction with the body and caused chronic pain months and years after the surgery.

However today, the meshes used by top hernia surgeons are extra lightweight and thin causing only minimal inflammatory reaction inside the body. This reduction of scarring and inflammation in the healing process has reduced the incidence of post hernia pain (post herniorrhaphy pain) to almost zero. Unfortunately some surgeons are still using those heavy thick meshes created 10 years ago.

We discuss with patients that it is not uncommon to feel occasional pulling, tugging, burning, and other unusual sensations in the groin for up to year. These occasional feelings are considered normal to any surgery, including hernia surgery. Learn more about hernia mesh HERE

I've heard that mesh can cause problems and that I should refuse to have mesh during surgery. Is that true?

Using the correct types of new, lightweight mesh reduce the chances of post hernia pain to almost zero. Plus the use of mesh significantly reduces the recurrence rate for hernias. Meaning the chance the hernia will come back after surgery. Click below to read an article provided by the non-biased government department, The National Institutes of Health.

In the short video below, Dr. Harris discusses some of the information about mesh and why it is the preferred method for hernia repair.

         NIH Logo

Learn more about hernia mesh HERE

Divider

Recovery After Hernia Surgery

(Click a Question to view the Answer)

We encourage patients to download our 'Hernia Recovery Chart' to learn more about what to expect after hernia surgery:

What should I know about recovery from hernia surgery?

Below, Dr. Todd S. Harris discusses what to expect in the 3-4 days after hernia surgery. He gives advice on how to minimize discomfort and about the recommendations that California Hernia Specialists provides to patients for after their surgery.

        

In the short video below, Dr. Todd S. Harris discusses what to expect for long term recovery the weeks and months after hernia surgery.

        

To learn much more and for the details of recovering from hernia surgery, visit on our About Hernia Recovery page.

When will I be ‘healed’ from my hernia surgery?

Patients often want to know how long it will take to recover from hernia surgery. From a hernia surgery point of view, the advanced hernia repairs that hernia specialists perform are so stable and secure that patients could return to weightlifting and full activities the following day and not cause their hernia to recur. The techniques and products that we use reduce the chance of hernia recurrence both in the short term and the long term to almost zero.

Once the hernia is repaired, there is almost nothing a patient can do even from day one to re-injure the hernia. However, the skin, fat, nerves and muscles around the hernia repair take some time to return to normal and completely ‘heal’. Therefore, even though the hernia is safe immediately after surgery, we ask patients to slowly return to normal activities to give the body time to heal. Plus, most patients have some pain which will require time.

In the short video below, Dr. Todd S. Harris discusses what to expect for long term recovery the weeks and months after hernia surgery.

        

To learn much more and for the details of recovering from hernia surgery, visit on our About Hernia Recovery page.

How painful is hernia surgery?

As with any surgery, most patients experience some post operative pain in the area of their hernia repair. Most patients will also experience some level of swelling and bruising in the area. The first 2-3 days are usually the worst for most patients. Some require oral pain medications for comfort while some use ice packs and over the counter Tylenol. During this time, sitting up, lying down, walking, coughing, sneezing, and laughing will remind you of your surgery.

By day 4 most patients are able to return to their normal activities of daily living and working with only occasional reminders of the surgery when they twist suddenly, or stand/sit for extended periods of time. Each day the discomfort should improve to the point of very little pain by weeks 2-3. Patients who had a significant amount of pain with the hernia before the surgery, often have more pain after the surgery.  We discuss with patients that it is not uncommon to feel occasional pulling, tugging, burning, and other unusual sensations in the groin for up to year. These occasional feelings are considered normal to any surgery, including hernia surgery.

When can I return to work after my surgery?

Recovery is a process that will be different for all patients, but from a surgery healing point of view, there are a few important time-lines. All patients should plan on being off from work for a long weekend, or 3-4 days. The day after the surgery we encourage patients to walk as much as tolerated including trips to the store, mall, or the beach. Most patients can return to light activities such as desk jobs in about 3-4 days.

Below, Dr. Todd S. Harris discusses what to expect in the 3-4 days after hernia surgery. He gives advice on how to minimize discomfort and about the recommendations that California Hernia Specialists provides to patients for after their surgery.

        

Patients that have heavy lifting requirements at work will need to be on light duty for 3 weeks after surgery. At the 4 week point, patients are cleared to resume all normal work activities as tolerated.

When can I return to sports after my surgery?

This is one of the most common questions for athletes to ask. Just as returning to work will depend somewhat on each patient's pain after their procedure, returning to sports will be dictated by the ability to recover after the activity. From a surgery healing point of view, there are a few important time-lines to follow.

The day after the surgery we encourage patients to walk as much as tolerated including trips to the store, mall, or the beach. By day 3-4 patients who feel like they are able to participate in light cardio activities can engage in easy jogging, stretching, or some forms of yoga. By week one, athletes can slowly increase their activity as tolerated but without lifting anything greater than 20 pounds. At the 3 week point after surgery, most patients are cleared to resume all of their pre-surgery athletic activities. This could include swimming, cycling, distance running, lifting heavy weights at the gym, and other contact sports.

Athletes may find that they are sore or stiff after resuming their activities. Anti-inflammatories such as Motrin or Aleeve are helpful. Using ice in the area of the hernia after engaging in heavy sporting activities can also help with this discomfort. If the pain with athletic activities is severe, patients should take at least one day off to recover or until their pain resolves.

When can I return to sexual activities after hernia surgery?

As soon as patients can engage in sexual activities without severe pain, they can resume their normal activities. Just as with returning to work and athletic activities, there will be some recovery period before patients feel back to normal.

I've heard about chronic pain after hernia surgery. What causes chronic pain and what is the chance this will happen to me?

Over the years hernia surgery technique as well as the materials used during hernia surgery have improved dramatically. As recently as 5 years ago, doctors were using heavy plastic meshes placed over the area of the hernia to help repair the weakened muscles. This heavy plastic mesh caused a significant reaction with the body and caused chronic pain months and years after the surgery.

Today, the meshes used by top hernia surgeons are extra lightweight and thin causing only minimal inflammatory reaction inside the body. This reduction of scarring and inflammation in the healing process has reduced the incidence of post hernia pain (post herniorrhaphy pain) to almost zero. Unfortunately some surgeons are still using those heavy thick meshes created 10 years ago. However, we discuss with patients that it is not uncommon to feel occasional pulling, tugging, burning, and other unusual sensations in the groin for up to year. These occasional feelings are considered normal to any surgery, including hernia surgery.


Divider

Questions About Dr. Harris and California Hernia Specialists

(Click a Question to view the Answer)

What is important in choosing where to have hernia surgery?

Patients should find a surgeon who not only treats hernias commonly, but also who uses the most advanced techniques and materials available. Surgeons who can't perform the laparoscopic hernia repair can only offer what they think is the best approach to hernia surgery. All patients should consider being seen by a surgeon who has the full complement of surgical techniques (including laparoscopic surgery) and can offer the best approach tailored to each individual patient. Also, some surgeons haven't adopted the use of the extra lightweight meshes which have greatly reduced the incidence of postoperative pain. Patients should discuss with their surgeon which meshes are used and ensure they are being treated with the most advanced products available.

What separates Dr. Harris from other general surgeons?

Dr. Harris performs both open hernia surgery and laparoscopic hernia surgery. Both of these surgeries are available allowing each patient to have the entire spectrum of options when deciding on what type of hernia repair to choose. Dr. Harris only use the latest and most advanced materials for mesh hernia repairs to greatly limit chronic post operative hernia pain. Dr. Harris participates in ongoing education for doctors on hernia repair to ensure new techniques and new materials are integrated into the sub-specialty of hernia surgery.

    

What is unique about California Hernia Specialists?

California Hernia Specialists is dedicated to the diagnosis of, treatment for, and recovery from, all hernia types. At California Hernia Specialists our patients experience a calm, relaxed, professional environment for the evaluation and treatment of their hernia. We ensure that each patient is given the time they need to ask questions, get detailed answers, and feel comfortable about their treatment plan.

Our practice differs from most other locations around the country in that your consultation, surgery, and follow up are all within our complete center. By having an AAAHC accredited Surgery Center within our facility, it allows us to maintain the highest quality, best outcomes and most comprehensive service for our patients. We use the most advanced laparoscopic techniques and mesh (if needed) to ensure the least chance of recurrence and post operative pain.

Learn more about what separates our center from other options on our California Hernia Specialists Comparison page or watch the short video below.

          

Are you involved with research?

Yes. California Hernia Specialists is one of 17 centers in the country which is participating in the Americas Hernia Society Quality Collaborative.

Americas Hernia Society Quality Collaberative

This study is looking initially at patients with incisional hernias and will expand into other more common hernias in the near future.

You can learn more on our Research page.

How do I contact your center?

We can be reached at (949) 221-0136.

Kristen Cimino is in charge of scheduling consultations with our office, and can be reached at our office number, and by email at: kcimino@CaliforniaHerniaSpecialists.com.

Marisol Rodriquez is responsible for surgery scheduling and can be reached at our office number, and by email at: mrodriguez@CaliforniaHerniaSpecialists.com.

Patients can contact Dr. Harris at our office, or by email at: Harris@CaliforniaHerniaSpecialists.com. Our dedicated staff for hernia patients will help facilitate your first consultation, any required tests, and your procedure at our center. Contact Us HERE

Where is California Hernia Specialists located?

We are located in Newport Beach, CA, in central Orange County. Our office at 4501 Birch St., Newport Beach, CA, 92660. It is on the corner of MacArthur Ave. and Birch St, adjacent to John Wayne Airport. See our Map HERE

Divider