Parent Q&A

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  • Alternative to mesh for hernia surgery?

    (4 replies)

    My husband has (many) multiple hernias and Kaiser is suggesting a large sheet of mesh to correct. I've read about hernia surgery using one's own muscle tissue, but the one doctor in the peninsula I found who performs these specialized surgeries seems to have retired. Is anyone aware of an alternative to mesh? Conversely, any experiences with hernia surgery that you wish to share, mesh or otherwise? Thanks in advance!

    I had hernia surgery at Kaiser with absorbable mesh several years ago, with no issues. This mesh is gradually (over months and couple of years) absorbed into the body as new tissue takes hold. 

    My husband was diagnosed with 4 hernias (inguinal, umbilical) earlier this year, we had a terrible time getting Kaiser to diagnose them appropriately and to get him a surgery appointment in a timely manner. Kaiser's surgery departments are all understaffed so there is currently a long wait time for routine surgeries.  

      We were not happy with the surgeon we met and were also concerned about using mesh.  Kaiser's standard of care for hernias is to use mesh, so any surgeon in the Kaiser network must use mesh.   We filed a grievance against Kaiser to get second opinions, and after a long battle, we got them and an earlier surgery date.  In the end, surgeons felt that the failure rate would be high with multiple hernias if you do not use mesh, although there is at least a 10% of chronic pain with mesh.   

    My husband had surgery at Kaiser Oakland this spring and had mesh placed.  It took him a few months to fully recover but he is doing great now and has no long term issues with the mesh and no regrets about going through with surgery.   Good luck, I hope you find someone to help you as well!  

    I did not have multiple hernias but I did have hernia surgery with Dr Jonathan Svahn at Kaiser in February and they used mesh and everything has been fine. He was recommended to me as an expert in laprascopic repairs and because my hernia had a strange presentation and it took forever to get correctly diagnosed. I thought he was great. He walked me through the options without a hard sell and he was very accessible and the surgery itself went great. https://mydoctor.kaiserpermanente.org/ncal/providers/jonathansvahn

    I also had Dr Svahn from Kaiser  to fix my inglinal hernia. It went perfect and fast recovery with the placement of the mesh…. I’m not sure how would you fix it without the mesh. But no problems in my case

  • Anyone have a recommendation for a pediatric gastroenterologist in the East Bay? Looking for someone to check out our 10-week old's belly button hernia.


    Hi! For an umbilical hernia, you'll want to see a general Pediatric surgeon, not a gastroenterologist. You didn't mention what type of insurance you have, but if you can go to UCSF Children's Hospital in Mission Bay (in SF), I highly recommend that whole practice, especially Hanmin Lee, MD or Lan Vu, MD, also Tippi Mackenzie, MD and Ben Padilla, MD. That way, if/when she needs surgical closure under anesthesia, you also get their excellent Pediatric anesthesiologists. Good luck! 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Hernias in Babies & Children Related Pages Hernias in Adults

Hernias in Babies & Children

Pediatric surgeon for inguinal hernia for 5yo?

April 2012

I am seeking a experienced pediatric surgeon for my 5yo. He has inguinal hernia. We took him to see Dr. James Betts in Oakland Children's Hospital and also Dr. Doug Miniati from UCSF. Both of them are good, it is hard to select who is better. Dr. Betts are older than Dr. Miniati, so I assumed more experienced? But Dr. Betts took more than 1 job (something related with firefighter), so his appointment is hard to make (is it a con? I want to have a doctor fully concentrate on ''doctor''). Has anyone had experience with the two doctors? Any advice on doctors and hernia surgery is appreciate. We also heard about Dr. Laurence Baskin, any one has comments on her? Thank you very much! Anxious & cautious mom

Betts and Hui and the other doctor, who is Nigerian (his name escapes me), are all excellent, all at Children's--that is the opinion of friends who are pediatricians and ped. anesthesiologists and friends who have done their residency at Children's. My child had an appendectomy by Hui, and he is top-notch, through, does beautiful surgery, and very kind. You cannot go wrong with the aforementioned three, and I might opt for the younger guy, nothing against Betts, who is a very fine surgeon. Fussy Consumer
All the pediatric surgeons at Children's Hospital are excellent practioners, and your child will be in good hands, whomever you choose. As you may know, this type of surgery is quite routine ( although stressful for you, of course!) and your child will probably recover very quickly. Children's Hospital RN

Inguinal hernia in 19 month old girl

Jan 2012

hi everyone, the other evening we had a scare when my daughter (19 months old) was apparently in a lot of pain and crying inconsolably and saying ''poopoo.'' when i checked her diaper area, i saw a big bump near her groin. we took her in to urgent care and four hours later (after an ultrasound and a lot of waiting) the doctors said it's a hernia. i am wondering if anyone has experience with this at this young of an age. the doctors all said to get surgery within the next week or so. they were able to reduce it by pushing it down so it is okay right now. i have also read and heard that it does not heal on its own but i am wondering if there are more natural ways to manage it, or if surgery is the only answer. if folks have been through this or have advice, i would greatly appreciate any. thank you in advance.

My 5-year-old daughter had an inguinal hernia repair last month. First, yes, surgery is the only way to manage it and it's important to get it done soon, especially if she has already experienced pain. A hernia can quickly get worse and can even be life-threatening, so please don't put off the surgery.

That said, I totally sympathize with your fears about going through this with a young child. The anethesia part is scary (for you, not them), but the recovery is likely to be minimal. Our daughter had her surgery in the late morning and was sleepy/naseous in the afternoon (from the drugs), but was up and literally running around by the evening. She took ibuprofen for the next couple of days but that was it. Now she has a tiny scar about a half-inch long that you wouldn't notice if you didn't know it was there.

Once your surgery date is scheduled, the nurses will walk you through each step so you will know what to expect, which is really helpful. Hernia repair is the most common surgery that pediatric surgeons do, so you can be assured that your doctor will likely have a lot of experience with this.

As for this surgery being necessary at ''such a young age,'' these types of hernias are actually much more common (as I recently learned) in babies than in older kids. (Age 5 is fairly uncommon.) Also, my son had surgery (a different type) when he was 2, so I have experience going through this with both a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old, and I will tell you that the experience with the 2-year-old was MUCH easier. At that age, they don't really know what is going on, aren't aware that they are ''going under,'' etc., so it's really not that scary for them. Just annoying like any routine doctor's appointment. I remember that my son was irritated at not being allowed to eat breakfast before his surgery, but other than that, he really wasn't bothered by the whole experience and has no memory of it now. Hang in there - I know it's scary but it will be OK! been there

Inguinal hernia repair is one of the most common pediatric surgeries. Usually the procedure itself takes approximately an hour, and your child will probably be ready to go home after another hour in the recovery room. Most kids of your daughter's age are back to feeling fine in 24-48 hours. The incision is small, and children heal quickly and often need only Tylenol and/ or Advil for pain for a day or two.

I believe surgical repair is the only treatment option. To delay treatment would put your child at some risk for intestinal obstruction, so I would suggest you follow the doctor's recommendation and schedule your daughter's surgery.

I would recommend any of the pediatric surgeons at Children's Hospital (Pediatric Surgical Associates 510-428-3233). All will have performed hundreds, if not thousands of inguinal hernia repairs on young children. Wherever you have the surgery done, I would suggest that it is of primary importance that your child be cared for by a board-certified pediatric anesthesiologist, not an adult anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist will be as vital to your child's well- being as the surgeon.

I hope everything goes smoothly for you and your daughter. I think it will all be easier than you anticipate. Pediatric RN

As a emergency doctor and a mother of a toddler, I would definitely go forward with the surgery if it were my daughter. You do not want the intestines to get stuck in the hernia and cause the bowel to die. This is very dangerous and potentially life threatening. An elective surgery is much safer than an emergent one for dead bowel. In a way you are lucky to have had this event. Now you can fix it before it becomes a bigger problem. Andrea

Inguinal Hernia in 2 month old

March 2008

My two-month old has an inguinal hernia, and will need surgery at some point. Do you have any thoughts for us about this surgery, esp. in a newborn? We are nervous about anesthesia for such a little guy. We are at Kaiser Oakland, and would appreicate also knowing about any ''good'' pediatric anesthesiologists there that you are aware of, or where we might go for a second opinion. Thanks. Sara

My son just had hernia repair surgery at Children's hospital last month. He was born 2 months premature and had hernias on both sides, one side was really large. He was 5 months old, 3 months corrected age when he had the surgery. The surgery took about 2 hours and he only had to stay at the hospital for about 3 hours afterwards. He was uncomfortable the first day and came down with a fever but was fine the second day. He seems much more comfortable now. Jackie

Infant with Diaphragmatic hernia

Jan 2008

Some good friends who are living in Israel for the year just discovered that their little girl to be has a diaphragmatic hernia. They are obviously consulting doctors in Israel, but I would love any advice, words of wisdom, stories, etc. that you have to share. Thank you so much. Alex

My sister's son was diagnosed with CDH at her first ultrasound with him. This was back in 2000. He was born on time and at 6 days old had his first surgery. I'm guessing the daughter is already born and they are not pregnant with her. With Jacob (my nephew), he had poor lung development on one side and hypertension due to his lower organs having floated to his chest region while in utero. Best wishes to your friend and his/her family! Jennifer
It's pretty much impossible for anyone on this list to say. Diaphragmatic hernias vary so much. If it's a little pin hole, it can be fixed surgically. If it's massive, it can mean that the babies lungs don't develop as the organs of the belly drift up into the chest. You'll have to wait for more information. Best wishes

Inguinal hernia for 5 month old baby

Sept 2006

Could anbody give me more information about inguinal hernia. I have a 5month old son and his one testicle is pretty bigger than the other. It stays big all the time. I ask my pediatritian Dr. Chiang in oakland and she said it will go away or drop in one year. I am little concerned about this and I ask another Dr Usem two days before and he said that it would not drop. He told me that it may be inguinal hernia may need surgery. I made an appointment at the children's hospital on this comming tuesday. Now me and my husband are very much worried about our son. Kindly give any information you have and if you experienced like this with your child, could you kindly share to us. It would help us alot. Thanks for taking your consideration

Our son was also found to have a hydrocele (similar to an inguinal hernia) around 5 months of age. I had noticed, while changing his diaper, that one of his testicles was larger than the other and seemed very much like a water balloon. I went to our pediatrician who checked it out and sent us directly (that day ) to Children's Hospital where a VERY skilled and knowledeable doctor, Dr. Karen Cartwright checked him out and confirmed that he had a hydrocele (a smaller version of the hernia). What she explained to us, and books later confirmed, was that the opening between the abdominal cavity and the testicular sac was not sealed all the way in utero and therefore, some fluid escaped into the testicular sac. The hernia version of this is when the opening is larger, large enough to allow a piece of the actual intestine to come through. The way she ruled the hernia out for us was that our son was in NO pain or discomfort during the visit, nor was he in any pain before or after. Apparently, a full blown hernia is VERY painful in children. She gave us several options: We could wait for it to potentially seal on its own (she did not think this would happen), we could wait until he was in actual pain, and then act, OR we could elect to do the corrective surgery right away (within a few months). She said it was not urgent, but recommended to do it sooner rather than later, if for no other reason than that he would remember it less. We chose the last option.

The idea of surgery was dreadful, but the more docs I talked with, the more it became obvious that this was VERY routine as a surgery, very successful, and very easy to recover from. True to all of the above, our son had the surgery (it was 1.5 hours at Children's Hospital), and while he was screaming as he came out from under general anasthesia, he was fine within an hour and off of tylenol within 24. I would trust the opinions of the docs at Children's Hospital. Every one we have come into contact with has been fabulous, smart, and efficient. Nine months post-surgery, we can barely even see the scar from the procedure. I have more to say but out of room so please email me for further questions about this! Good Luck!!

Dr. Sydorak for 7-year-old's hernia surgery?

Nov 2006

My 7 yr old son has an inguinal hernia and we are scheduling surgery with Dr. Roman Sydorak at Children's Hospital. Does anyone out there have any experience with him?

Dr Sydorak performed emergency surgery on my daughter when she was just 4 days old--and she's healed beautifully. My pediatrician says he's the best, and i believe her. From a parent's perpective, he was fantastic. He took plenty of time to explain to us exactly what was going on and what he was going to do, and in follow up visits he was patient with our questions. Interacting with parents seems to be a high priority for him. The nurses like him, too...All in all, i think you're in excellent hands.
very happy parent

Pediatric Hernia Surgeon?

May 2005

Hi, I am asking for a friend whose four-year-old needs a hernia operation. Has anyone had any experience with a pediatric surgeon in the Bay Area? Thanks, Jodi

My daughter had an inguinal hernia and had surgery at 13 months at Oakland Children's Hospital with Dr. Karen Cartwright. I highly recommend her. We had a very good impression of her, she was always available and nice and the surgery went very well. The procedure took about an hour; we were allowed to stay with her when they put her to sleep, then she was in the recovery room for about an hour (with us) and then we went home. She was well and running the same night. Now (after 6 months) we can hardly see the scar. Barbara

Baby diagnosed with congenital diaphragmatic hernia

March 2004

I am 22 weeks pregnant and the baby has been diagnosed through ultrasound to have a diaphragmatic hernia. We have done research and understand the diagnosis as well as the difficulties and uncertainties that lie ahead. I am wondering if there are others out there who are in the same situation or have had similar experiences, particularly dealing with the diagnosis during pregnancy. Perhaps there is a bay area support group for this that we are unaware of? Any information or feedback would be helpful.

Did anyone answer your post? I didn't, even though we've been through that diagnosis ourselves, because in our case we had multiple complications and a sad ending. My advice is to contact a genetic counselor. She (they are almost always women) will be able to put you in touch with all the resources specific to your circumstances. We would have been lost without our genetic counselor. Our counselor was Dolores Madden at Alta Bates. She's wonderful. Kaiser also has several good ones. Email me privately if you like.

Hernia Surgery for 3-year-old

April 2003

My 3-year-old daughter was just diagnosed with a hernia, and we have a referral to a pediatric surgeon. What are some questions that will be important to ask him or her? Any advice on how to prepare a 3-year-old for this surgery? (I am currently living outside the bay area, so I am not looking for recommendations for a particular physician). Thanks so much! Gail

Our son had hernia surgery this past summer when he was 2.5. He had an inguinal hernia (scrotal) so obviously your daughter's is different. I don't know how drastically different the two situations and surgeries are but I spent way too much time stressing over something that turned out to be no big deal (especially for my son). He knew that he had a ''bump'' that the doctor was going to fix at a special hospital. That was about as detailed as we got so as not to create anxiety. I had my bag packed with a few new presents to make any difficult times easier and to try and divert him from asking for food or drink. We had a long wait time between checking in and his actual surgery so that is when I gave him all the new things to play with. Luckily we were at a nice children's hospital so the surgery waiting room had toys and a tv to keep him entertained. Make sure you get as early a time as possible so that she doesn't have to go though the day without eating or drinking. The most difficult part was after his surgery when he came out of the anesthia. He was disoriented and really pissed about the iv board he had strapped to his arm (to keep his iv in). He screamed and struggled with it for about a half hour but was much better after we took off the board. Kids are truly amazing- I believe we stayed a few hours after to make sure he was okay and he played quietly the whole time. When it was time to go he actually ran out of the hospital and it was as if nothing had ever happened. Hopefully your experience will be as smooth as ours was. It wasn't fun but it wasn't horrible either. CB

Hernia Surgery for 9-year-old

June 2002

Our 9 year old daughter has just developed a hernia and will probably need surgery. We weren't able to get an appointment with Dr. Patte Bishop (who has been recommended to us) until July. Has anyone had any experience with Dr. Karen Cartwright? Our daughter is very active and we haven't been told to restrict activity. Has anyone experienced problems with their kids and hernias before getting them repaired? Thanks in advance.

My son's hernia was repaired by my favorite pediatric surgeon in Patte Bishop's group, Dr. Marilyn Butler, very personable and competant, shouldn't be intimidating to your daughter. Karen Cartwright is also excellent, but a little more ''gruff''. The ''Surgi-center'' where they operate at Children's Hospital worked out great- they put my son in my arms as soon as he arrived back from surgery and he could start drinking 2 hours later. Good luck... anon (mom and MD)

Inguinal Hernia surgery for 3-year-old

April 2000

I have a friend whose daughter requires a right inguinal hernia operation. She is currently scheduled to have Dr. Laurence Baskin, a pediatric urologist from UCSF, perform the surgery on her 3 year old daughter. Has anyone had any experience with Dr. Baskin that they could share with me and my friend? Has anyone had any experience with another pediatric urologist that could be recommended?

Our son was seen by the Berkeley Urological Associates at 2999 Regent Street. Dr. Joel Piser did his circumcision (at 2 yrs) and Dr. Chi Lee did his hernia operation (at 3 years). We were very impressed by both, not only with their bedside manner but also their skill. The surgery was performed at Children's Hospital on an outpatient basis.

8-month-old with inguinal hernia

Jan 1999

My 8 month old baby girl has an inguinal hernia that requires surgery. Has anyone gone through this procedure? It is outpatient so she will be home that evening; since she is so active I wonder how much abdominal surgery will affect her. Any information will be valued and appreciated. Teal

To the person who asked about the Inguinal hernia procedure, our daughter had one on both sides. She had the surgery when she was 3 1/2 and it was so much easier than I expected. She had it at Childrens Hospital, Dr. Bishop, they were all great and they had a superb social worker who explained things to her and helped calm our fears greatly. She was a little sore that afternoon, it was out patient, and vomited a little, from the anasthesia but that is normal. She had the surgery on a Wed. and was back at preschool on Mon. She actually was pretty much her normal self in about 48 hrs. Kids are just so amazing. She had 1/2 teasoon of Tylenol for pain once, that was it. Its a very common procedure and I'm sure your baby will be fine. Our daughter is also very active and they told us there was nothing she could do to hurt herself just by moving around, jumping, running etc. Their movements are naturally slowed down by the soreness. Best of Luck
June 1998

Re: anesthetic for infant's hernia surgery

My son, now a teen, had this surgery when he was 3 month old to repair an iguinal hernia. This is hole in the lining of the intestine where the testes descend - it's supposed to close back up before the baby is born but sometimes it doesn't. The danger is that the intestines can get pushed out through the hole and then get squeezed off - I was told this is quite serious. This kind of hernia is very common in boys and the surgery for it is fairly routine.

My son had the surgery at Kaiser Oakland by a pediatric surgeon recommended by our pediatrician - can't remember his name now but he specialized in just this sort of thing. It took 20-30 minutes and I nursed him while he was still in the recovery room. He did have a general anesthetic - they use a special one just for babies. He had bandaid stitches - no thread, just something like tape over the very small incision. they healed in just a few days. It was quite amazing. He suffered no traumatic effects at all.

An interesting side story - I've heard that iguinal hernias are inherited. My son's dad had the surgery at the age of one - in the early 1950's the only surgeon available in his small town in S. Carolina was the county coroner who left a huge Frankenstein scar across his abdomen! His mother told me the hernia was discovered at birth but the doctor wanted to wait till he was one for some reason, and so he had to wear some sort of truss or bandage his first year of life, his mother worrying the whole time that he would push out his intetines every time he cried! His father also had an iguinal hernia but didn't have the surgery till it was discovered when he enlisted for WWII!

We haven't had to deal with surgery in our family but I received an issue of Mothering Magazine that had 2 articles on: When your child undergoes anesthesia, How children heal from medical experiences. They are in the Spring 1997 issue. If you have trouble finding the magazine, I can photocopy the articles for you. Good luck! Karen

Hernias in Adults

Recovery time for hernia operation

Nov 2011

I'm a dad with small children and am preparing for a hernia operation. I am not sure how long I'll be out of commission and would appreciate anyone sharing their experience.

I had a hernia repaired about 5 years ago. I think the bulk of the recovery took about 2-3 weeks. For the first week, there was quite a bit of pain if the area was strained in any way (including going to the bathroom). I couldn't lift much. I had it done laproscopically which I believe is the far better option because I was never really bent over.

I would make sure there is someone to help you at home and do the driving for the first week at least.

The other thing is that any kind of surgery is exhausting. You may find you're tired often and need to lie down. Wishing you the best

I had a hiatal (stomach) hernia a couple years ago. I had laparoscopic surgery which is a much quicker recovery time. Mine was long to recover from due to the fact it was in the stomach. I was on liquids for 5 weeks, then baby food for 4 weeks so that kept me pretty weak. So depending where i the hernia that makes a difference. Depending if you get traditional or laparoscopic it makes a difference. But if you have never been put under completely you will be surprised at how wiped out you are after work. If you are responsible for 2 small kids i would assume 2 weeks.

Femoral hernia and pregnancy

Dec 2010

Where to begin. Three months ago we lost our baby at 16.5 weeks due to heart defects caused by Downs. I'm 39, and we are very much wanting to start trying again ASAP, but now it looks like I have developed a hernia, probably a femoral hernia. The pain is constant but not severe. I have a consultation with a surgeon in a week, but am receiving varying info from different OB's as to whether it would be better to wait until after a pregnancy or to go ahead with a hernia repair. (On an online hernia forum there are horror stories of hernia repairs ripping during pregnancy.) We are beside ourselves that after the loss of our baby, we find ourselves with yet another medical obstacle to overcome. Has anyone dealt with a femoral hernia either during pregnancy or just before conceiving? I had a natural childbirth with our first child and it's hard to imagine labor with this kind of problem added to the mix. Are there any nonsurgical approaches that might help? Has anyone gone through a pregnancy with a hernia and been able to deliver vaginally/naturally? Has anyone had a hernia repair and then gotten through a subsequent pregnancy OK? Thank you.

I have had a very similar experience to yours...normal first pregnancy/birth, lost a second pregnancy far down the line, and then dealt with hernias (inguinal and umbilical) during my third. The inguinal hernia was pretty painful, but I decided to wait after having a consultation with a surgeon. In my case I decided to wait because the hernias were only going to be around when I was pregnant. I was told that once I delivered it would go away. Instead, I went to Johnson's Medical Supply on Shattuck and got fitted for a truss (a medieval looking support that pushes in the hernia while kind of supporting your belly). A ridiculous contraption, but inexpensive and worth a try. I tried to stay off of my feet for long periods (hard to do with a toddler) and not gain too much weight. The good news is that while it was initially painful, it eventually went away during the latter part of my pregnancy. I went on to have a really great birth and the inguinal hernia was a non-issue during labor. I'm pretty sure it's really just about your comfort level and not a threat to your pregnancy. Having lost a baby too, I know that it can add anxiety to future pregnancies. I hope that you are/or will get support for that. Good luck with everything! anon
I developed a femoral hernia during my 2nd pregnancy. The area became very painful when I stood too long. As the pregnancy progressed, I wasn't able to stand for more than maybe a few minutes. This made shopping and other chores almost impossible. I had to start using the electric carts in stores like Target, etc. I delivered my baby at home (water birth) and there were no complications. After I delivered the baby, I was no longer bothered by the hernia.

I declined to have the hernia repaired, because I had also heard horror stories about these repairs not healing properly. I knew that I wanted to have another baby, so I wasn't willing to risk it.

A few years later we decided to go for baby #3. I started feeling the hernia about 5 months into the pregnancy and fairly quickly it became too painful to stand for too long. I went on disability when I was 6 months pregnant. I had a normal vaginal delivery and had no complications due to the hernia. The pregnancy was very hard, though. As the baby grew and weighed down on my lower body, the hernia became more painful. During my last month of the pregnancy I just pretty much sat around. Doing anything was just too much.

It sounds like your hernia is already bothering you without being pregnant, though. I realize that my situation may be different, but I hope that I was able to help a little.

I am so sorry about the loss of your baby. I can't imagine the pain that you must be going through. I wish you all the best in your next pregnancy. joj

Most of the ''horror'' stories that you hear about concern umbilical or ventral hernias during pregnancy, not femoral hernias. And these tend to be most problematic postpartum.

Doctors don't like to repair umbilical hernias until women are finished with child bearing because the extreme stretching of the abdomen in the latter stages of pregnancy can cause the mesh to separate from the tissues to which it was attached.

Because the femoral hernia is down near your groin/thigh area, and this area of the abdomen does not undergo nearly the same strain during pregnancy, so the likelihood of the mesh repair holding up is much greater.

Speak to your OBGYN about the stats for pregnancy after femoral hernia.

I would imagine that if left untreated, the weight of pregnancy might press upon a femoral hernia can cause significant pain. Certainly, if you are in pain now, that would speak to getting the repair done before your next pregnancy. BeFit-Mom

Hernia above my belly button!

April 2010

I'd love to hear from anyone who has had a hernia near or above the belly button. It has been recommended that I have mine repaired laproscopically with mesh. I'd love to hear from anyone who has had this procedure! What was the surgery like? How long did it take? What was the recovery time like? Thanks! hurting belly

About two years ago I developed a squishy bulge above my belly button, and self-diagnosed (via Google and Wikipedia) as having an epigastric hernia. Didn't hurt, but was odd, and seemed to grow a bit over time. GP was convinced it was a lipoma (benign fatty tumor), but eventually opted to refer me to Dr. Robert Fowler... he took one look and concurred on the hernia diagnosis. Scheduled surgery with him at Alta Bates and it went like a dream: in at 6am, woke from the general anasthesia c. noon, and headed home around 1pm (driven by someone else, per requirements). Came home with a subscription for Vicodin, but there was never any pain beyond a small, dull ache for just a day or so. Took it easy for a few days, was not supposed to drive for a week (but as I work at home, that was fine). I'd certainly reoommend Fowler and Alta Bates; our insurance covered everything, though the bill looked like they'd inserted the cost of a year at an Ivy League college into my abdomen. It's a 2'' or so scar, and no complaints since. All Sewed Up
I had an umbilical hernia repair done in out-patient surgery by Catherine Forest at Alta Bates in 2002. I got my ''inny'' belly button back. I asked Dr. Forest at the time about mesh and she did not have a good opinion of it. I don't know how large your repair is, but if you are concerned about the mesh, get a second opinion. Good luck! Jeanne
I had my (small, non-painful) hernia repaired at the end of February by Deborah Kerlin (Walnut Creek). I did an outpatient procedure at Aspen Surgical Center and it took a little over an hour. The doc also did a little abdominoplasty in the area since I had diastasis recti and this made it go a bit longer. Dr. Kerlin used a surgical mesh. My hernia was about the size of a nickel right above my belly button.

I took Tylenol with codeine for the pain for 3 days after the surgery and then was sore but not in pain. I was nursing so didn't want to use anything stronger and it was fine. I was fully up to speed by 10 days after, just unable to lift my older child for another 4 weeks total. Dr. Kerlin did a great job. Angela

Anyone had surgery for umbilical hernia?

Feb 2010

I have surgery scheduled to fix my umbilical hernia in a few weeks. I hate to have surgeries I don't need (esp. with general anesthesia), but I don't think this will resolve itself and I may be changing insurance soon. I would like to hear how others have dealt with this (decision and recovery). The hernia is not painful. I am breastfeeding a 6 month old and have a 2.5 year old as well. I was told I can't lift the older one for 4 weeks (anything over 30 lbs). I've read older posts on the BPN and do have the Helene Byrne DVD. Any feedback is helpful! Thank you. Angela

go for having the surgery. I was able to have my hernia fixed at the same time as having my second c-section, but I imagine my recovery was similar. I had my mom come to help the first week, but after that I was able to manage not lifting my two-year-old for six weeks. I planned 15 minutes extra time to have him climb into his own car seat. Did all diaper changes on the floor. And I found that if I knelt down (one knee on the floor, the other one bent at a right angle) that he could use my knee as a little step stool and climb into his crib, or reach drinking fountains etc... It's not easy, but I feel it was well worth it. I was constantly aware of the aching feeling of the hernia, and that it could get worse if I strained it.
I have an umbilical hernia I have had repaired twice. Neither surgery fully resolved the issue. I have spoken to a few surgeons, and the consensus is that the repair is probably not necessary. I am very active, am conscious of what is likely to cause it to pop out, and then I just push it back in and take a deep breath. There does not seem to be any long term problems involved in leaving the hernia. The last surgery I was under general, and it took quite a long time for me to fully recover (4-6 months.) If you feel the surgery is necessary, there are a few surgeons in Oakland who can do the repair laproscopically. Good luck! anon

Adult Umbilical Hernia

June 2009

I think I have an umbilical hernia. I have slightly tender bulge right above my belly button. It makes sense as I have had three kids, etc....Any advice about getting it repaired, etc...? thanks bulging belly button babe

I have lived with an umbilical hernia for over twenty years. It's manageable so long as I don't get constipated, lift (continuously) heavy items or do a ton of sit-ups. My doctor wanted to repair it when I was pregnant (simple procedure) but I chose not to. If it does not bother you, then live with it, otherwise, see your physician and get this simple repair done. Good luck A.
You describe ''a slightly tender bulge right above my belly button''... I had the exact same thing, without the three pregnancies as an excuse (as a middle-aged man). I was thinking it was an epigastric hernia, but the doctor suspected (and an ultrasound confirmed) a lipoma, which is a benign, fatty tumor. Advice was to either ignore it, or have it surgically removed as an outpatient sort of thing... I'm likely to go the latter route, as it seems to be slowly growing and makes my belly look odd. But I'd certainly recommend you have your bulge looked at. Some Guy

Belly button hernia postpartum

August 2008

Should I get surgery? Who is a good hernia surgeon? I developed a bellybutton hernia many months after the birth of my son. I went to see a doctor who sent me to a surgeon. He was able to push it back into my belly. He said that I still had a hole there and that the fat (luckily the intestine didn't come out) could pop out again. I have been wearing a girdle and I think that that is helping it to stay in for the last couple of months. I probably would have had it fixed, but I was right in the middle of moving up here to Berkeley when this happened. I don't want to drive 5 hours to get it done by the surgeon that saw me, but I don't know of anyone up here. I also wonder whether it will even pop out again. I am not big on interventions. Heather

Not sure what advice I could give other than yeah, it happens and I think it's pretty common. It happened after my first baby and got worse after my second child. I saw three plastic surgeons to see what they could do about it and the loose skin around my belly button - that's all the scaring I ended up with. Two of the plastic surgeons said it was no big deal and they could repair it with a tummy tuck. The third told me to seek the advice of a general surgeon before he would do anything. I did and the general said that plastic surgeons are trained just as general surgeons are so they should be able to perform the surgery the same as he would. Just make sure I check the surgeons medical qualifications and make sure they are board certified. And of course make sure I feel good about the doctor I choose. Haven't had the surgery yet (still recovering from a tonsillectomy!) but plan to in the winter. Good luck to you! Dawn

Timing of Post Cesarean Hernia Repair

April 2005

I delivered my second child on March 2nd via repeat cesarean section. Over the last few weeks I have noticed a tennis ball sized lump in my abdomen that my OB thinks may be a hernia. It is not by my incision nor is it by my belly button. She referred me out for an ultrasound which I will have later this month. Assuming it is a hernia, does any one have any suggestions or recommendations about when I should get it repaired and who I should get to do the repair? I have a three year old daughter and a newborn son. The idea of not picking up the baby is out of the question. Also the notion that I have to prolong not picking up my older child is hard. How long can I go before I have to get it repaired? Does anyone have any experience with this? Thanks. alicia

I was diagnosed with an abdominal hernia about 4 months after my son was born (#2) - I didn't have a C-section, and my ''bulge'' is close to my belly button so I think it was a pretty easy diagnosis. I could also push the bulge back in myself and it popped out mainly when I was lifting something (e.g., my son). The Doc I was referred to was great : Frederick Wright on Regent St. in Berk. 883-9292 - very kind, professional and has kids of his own - he said as long as I wasn't too bothered there was no rush to get the surgery - especiually given the no-lifting post- op situation - he said wait until my son was more independent - this was a year and a half ago - I'm thinking I'll have surgery next fall/winter when my son starts daycare and I can get some help with the post-op time from relatives. I think it's no big deal to walk around with the hernia so long as you are careful abotu lifting etc.. I've been every cautious about abdominal exercize - no crunches, sit-ups etc.. but that's me - not the Docs advice - also my understanding is that the only danger with a hernia is if it gets ''pinched'' - that is it pops through the muscle lining and then get stuck there - so that the tissue loses blood flow and dies - and you get a massive internal infection - but the pain associated with the piching is apparently so incredible that there's no way you can miss it - you head straight to the ER and they do the operation then - (my cousin had this happen). I know several people who have had hernias that they waited years to repair - so it sounds like it's good to get it done - but no rush and certainly wait until you can reasonably give yourself the recovery time.Good Luck! tender tummy mama

Hernia Repair with Bruce Moorstein

September 2004

I am scheduled to have my hernia repaired by Surgeon Bruce Moorstein. Has anyone had experience with this Doctor? Any comments would be welcome.

Dr. Moorstein performed an abdominal surgery on me in 1988. He never pressured me into the surgery and met with me several times to explore my options and provide information. He did an excellent job with very good follow up care. He was also very supportive of my mother (I was an adult) who was far more distressed by the ordeal than me. Years later, when I had follow up questions, he got my files out of storage and spoke with me by phone to answer my questions and address my concerns (without charge). My experience was very positive. Elysse

Recently diagnosed with hiatal hernia

August 2004

Please, please all those out there with hiatal hernia's. I was diagnosed with one yesterday, after much persuasion on my part to finally get my doctor to do the diagnostic test for it. I have had nausea, abdominal upset for years and really bad breath off and on. She tells me my hernia is ''moderate'' is size. I haven't had this term ''moderate'' objectively defined as yet. I prefer to hear from fellow commoners. Please help, tell me your stories advice, how I should, how you might proceed. (I also have a ''small'' umbilical hernia non-incarcerated, but the hiatal hernia is giving me the most trouble.)

Hernias can be treated without surgery. They are a symptom of stress on the body and can be healed with a holistic approach. If you are interested about learning more I recommend Dr. Larry Gertler in Oakland 510 652 2302. feeling better
When I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia quite a few years ago I was really freaked at first, as it sounded like something terrible! My doctor assured me that it was really no big deal and could be treated successfully with antacids. I had had similar symptoms to yours- chronic discomfort, bad breath, and also frequent burning sensations in my throat (gastric reflux). The hernia simply prevents the lower esophagus from closing completely and stomach acids then cause various irritations. I have taken Zantac twice a day ever since and have none of my previous problems (when I ran out of it for a few days my symptoms returned). Zantac is a benign medication and there is no problem with taking it on a long term basis and I have had no side effects from it. My doctor writes me a prescription for it (Kaiser) and even though it's now over the counter, I get it for a generic copay. By the way, for those who have Kaiser and don't know this, you are entitled to a 100 day supply of any medication for one copay. Of course, this doesn't apply to things like antibiotics that are only intended for a short term course of treatment. Cecelia
Actually, taking Zantac to treat the acid reflux from a hiatal hernia is not completely harmless. Zantac blocks the absorbtion of vital nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin d and the b vitamins (including folic acid), and long-term use can create deficiencies. I had a hiatal hernia for several years, and took zantac for the first few. After I learned about the nutrient blocking, I started taking digestive enzymes (plain old live culture yogurt, or can be found in supplement form, acidophilus, etc) which helped treat the acidic stomach fairly well. Talk to your doctor, obviously. Anonymous

Hernia in groin during pregnancy

Sept 2000

My sister is about 32 weeks pregnant with her second child and is experiencing painful lumps on both sides of her groin (but much more bothersome on one side). Her doc thinks they might be hernias but isn't sure. Anyone out there experience anything like this? She is worried that if it is a hernia, delivery might be tough. Thanks. Jen

Based on just what you described, if it's not a hernia it could possibly be swollen (or infected) lymph nodes which would protrude and can be extremely painful. Someone who can do Lymphatic Drainage Therapy might be able to help, but if it's infected she will likely need antibiotics. If your sister lives in this area I can refer her to a massage therapist who is very skilled and experienced in LDT. June

Surgery for umbilical hernia

Oct 2001

I have been diagnosed with an umbilical hernia. I found some items from a Web search about this condition. Questions for my Bay Area neighbors:
1- Can you share any surgical experiences regarding umbilical hernia repair? How was the recovery time?
2- Has anyone had any experience with the surgeon Catherine Forest?
3- Any other advice for a successful surgical outcome?
Thank you.

I had an inguinal hernia repaired by Catherine Forest earlier this year. The surgery went well, and the recovery went as predicted - about a week before I could drive, longer before I could pick up heavy things, and due to the inactivity, it took awhile to get back up to speed even when the pain and discomfort were gone.

My tips would be to make sure you really do rest and take enough pain medication initially. I didn't, and that may have prolonged the recovery time for myself. And comparing to my cesaerian two years previously, the hernia was a bit worse in terms of pain and recovery.

I had this surgery at Kaiser in May 2001 after 8 years of holding my belly button in every time I coughed, laughed, or did a sit up. I am SO-O-O glad that I decided to do the surgery. However, it was way more serious an operation than I realized, in terms of recovery and the need for rest. Like the other person, I recommend that you take the pain medicine. I took it the first four days, but you need to realize that the medicine will make you feel better than you actually ARE. You absolutely MUST rest the first week to 10 days, and not pick up anything for 6 weeks. I prolonged my recovery by taking the pain medicine and continuing to work very hard at my computer and doing laundry and such. DON'T. Good luck to you. Madeleine
My mother (breast cancer) and my niece (abdominal cyst) have had operations with Dr. Catherine Forest and we were delighted with her both times. Very competent, kind, and great with follow through. I would go to her in a second should the need arise. Nancy
Jan 2002

This is a follow-up to my post in October asking about adult hernia repairs. I had a small umbilical hernia and had asked for input about the surgeon Catherine Forest and these types of surgeries. I had out-patient surgery at Alta Bates 2 weeks ago and everything went very well. The staff at Alta Bates was wonderful, and Dr. Forest did a good job. I went in at 5:30 a.m. and was home by 1:30 p.m. I was pain-free in less than a week. My experience may not be the same for others experiencing hernia surgery. I wish anyone having surgery the best. Thank you to the people who responded about my post!