Hernia Surgical Mesh

Hernia Surgical Mesh

When you have a hernia, the contents of the abdomen bulge through a weak spot in the muscles of your abdominal wall. A hernia will not go away on its own, and abdominal wall reconstruction surgery is needed to fix a hernia.

There are two main parts of abdominal wall reconstruction surgery. First, the surgeon puts the bulging intestines or tissue back inside the abdomen. Second, the surgeon fixes the weak spot in the abdominal muscle so the hernia will not come back. When a hernia comes back at or near the site of a previous hernia, it is called recurrence.

In many cases, surgeons use a medical device called hernia surgical mesh as part of abdominal wall reconstruction. Surgical mesh can help strengthen the repair and reduce the risk of recurrence.

What is hernia surgical mesh?

Surgical mesh is a medical device that surgeons use to support weakened or damaged tissue. The mesh covers a weak spot to reduce the risk of problems, like recurrent or incisional hernias, after surgery.

There are different types of hernia mesh. Most are made of a kind of plastic or biologic material. Some types of mesh are designed to be absorbable. Others are permanent implants that stay in the body.

Why is surgical mesh used in hernia repair?

A hernia occurs when there is a weak spot in the muscles of the abdominal wall. Surgical incisions can also create weak spots in the muscle, which can lead to incisional hernias.

Covering a weak spot in the abdominal wall with surgical mesh strengthens the area, making it less likely for a recurrent hernia to happen after surgery.

Using surgical mesh to support the abdominal muscles and stop tissue from bulging through is similar to covering a hole in a container so the contents don’t spill out.

Do all hernia repairs require surgical mesh?

For many hernias, using mesh is considered the standard of care. This means that surgeons typically use some kind of mesh as part of abdominal wall reconstruction. Not all hernia repairs require mesh, but most do.

Our surgeons offer personalized hernia care. Different treatment options might be best for different patients and their hernias. We will tailor a treatment plan that fits your situation and helps you get back to normal after hernia surgery.

Your surgeon will talk with you about whether surgical mesh might be necessary. Your care team will answer any questions you have about hernia surgery and mesh.

Is hernia mesh safe?

Hernia mesh is safe and effective in most cases. The goal of abdominal wall reconstruction is to repair hernias and prevent them from recurring, and surgical mesh is often a helpful tool in that process.

Washington University hernia surgeons have the experience to select the type of mesh best suited to each individual patient. Our dedicated surgeons deliver excellent outcomes while treating a large number of hernias each year. 

What are the risks of using surgical mesh for hernia repair?

As with any surgery or medical device, there are some risks associated with surgical mesh.

The main risks associated with mesh include infection, pain, and scar-like tissue that sticks together where you had surgery, called adhesion.

When used by an experienced surgeon in the appropriate situation, problems with surgical mesh are uncommon.

How can I learn more about surgical mesh for hernia repair?

If you have a hernia, your Washington University hernia surgeon will discuss treatment options and answer any questions you have before surgery. It can be helpful to bring a list of questions to your doctor’s appointment. If you want to know more about surgical mesh, you should consider asking:

  • Will I need mesh for my hernia repair?
  • What is the mesh you will use made of?
  • What is the name of the mesh you will use?
  • Will the mesh show up on or interfere with imaging tests like X-rays, MRIs or CT scans?
  • If I require abdominal surgery in the future, what should I tell my health care providers regarding the mesh and where it was placed?

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