Doctors generally recommend surgical repair of all hernias due to the risk of the intestines becoming trapped or strangulated within the hernia, says WebMD. However, as long as the intestinal bulge can be pressed back into the abdomen, a patient can wait to undergo surgery at a convenient time. If the intestine becomes trapped so tightly within the hernia that the flow of blood is cut off, it is a medical emergency and the patient must undergo surgery immediately.
If a hernia is small and causes no symptoms, a doctor may suggest simply monitoring it rather than recommend the person undergo surgery, says MedicineNet. This is especially true for patients at high risk for surgical complications. However, if the hernia continues to grow or seems likely to become trapped, surgery becomes necessary. Elective hernia repairs generally have better patient outcomes than emergency hernia repairs, which is why doctors prefer to operate on a hernia before it becomes problematic.
An abdominal hernia is the result of weakened abdominal muscles allowing a portion of the intestine to protrude through the abdominal wall, explains MedicineNet. During hernia surgery, the surgeon repairs and reinforces the weakened portion of the abdominal wall to prevent the intestine or other tissue from bulging through it.