If you have a hernia, you may already know that surgery is the only way to get it repaired. But if you’re like most people, you probably don’t love the idea of spending time in the hospital.
Increasingly, however, relatively minor surgeries on healthy adults are being performed outside of hospitals. Hernia repairs are a common type of surgery done in these facilities, often called “outpatient” or “ambulatory” surgical centers.
You don’t stay overnight at one of these centers — you have surgery and leave on the same day. That means you get to recover in the comfort of your own home.
“We want our outpatient surgery to be a personalized experience,” says AdventHealth surgeon Jeffrey Chiu, MD. “From the time you’re greeted at the desk, we want to make the service exceptional.”
June is National Hernia Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to learn about the condition and, if you have one, get it fixed.
If your hernia — a hole in the supportive tissue under your skin, usually the abdomen or groin — isn’t getting larger or causing problems, it may be safe to leave alone. But, like a pothole, it’s only going to get worse over time.
(If you’re not sure whether you have a hernia or want to learn more about them, check out this post which answers some FAQs.)
Getting your hernia repaired isn’t only good for your body. It gives you peace of mind and the knowledge that, by taking care of yourself now, you’re avoiding larger problems down the road.
Here’s what to expect.
Why Have Surgery in an Outpatient Center?
Outpatient surgery centers have grown increasingly popular in recent years in part because they’re less expensive. But they can also potentially offer a better experience.
A hospital is like a Swiss Army knife — it needs to be ready to care for patients with a very wide range of conditions. Hospitals deliver excellent care, but the need to be prepared for anything can make it more difficult to establish a predictable routine.
An outpatient surgery center is like a tool created with one purpose: offering a convenient, personalized experience for patients undergoing surgeries. You can open a can with a Swiss Army knife, but it’s faster and easier with a tool made for that one specific job.
That said, some patients need the extra services and specialists that a hospital can provide. A hospital may be the best place for someone with significant heart problems or other complications to get a hernia repair.
Before you have surgery, you’ll likely speak with the surgeon in an office. They’ll ask some basic questions, including when you first noticed the hernia, whether you’re in pain and if you can push the tissue back inside the hernia.
Then, if you agree surgery is the right choice, you’ll make an appointment at the surgical center.
What to Expect From Hernia Surgery
After you get checked in at the front desk, you’ll move to a pre-operation room. Here, you can meet your nurses, anesthesiologist and surgeon and ask them any questions you have.
What happens in the operating room itself is similar to the hospital experience. There’s the full variety of anesthesia options.
Minimally invasive surgery is offered, though it requires the patient to undergo general anesthesia, meaning you’re fully asleep. Though this idea may be comforting to some, it comes with extra side effects and risks.
The surgery itself is a little like patching a hole in drywall. After making a cut, the surgeon ensures that the organs are safely inside the hole. Then they close the hole with a combination of the patient’s own tissues and a synthetic mesh.
The surgery usually takes 60 to 90 minutes. Over time, the patient’s tissues grow into the mesh, which helps strengthen the patch and stays in the patient for the rest of their life.
After their surgery, the patient may be a little sleepy but should be able to get up and walk around. After perhaps 10 or 20 minutes in a post-operative area, they’re ready to be picked up and go home.
After they arrive home, patients can do most of their normal daily activities right away. They may have some pain for a few days, but it’s usually treatable with over-the-counter medicine.
Patients are asked to hold off on strenuous activities and heavy lifting for six to eight weeks, Dr. Chiu says.
Overall, he says patients tend to appreciate their time in the surgical center.
“They feel well taken care of and appreciate the personalized individual care,” he said.
If you or a loved one have a hernia, it may be time to get it taken care of. Our goal is to offer you the best experience possible with the latest medical treatment and the shortest recovery time.