Surgical meshes are widely used for almost all types of patients undergoing hernia repair surgery, according to the Food and Drug Administration. For example, nearly 90 percent of groin hernia repair surgeries involved surgical meshes by the year 2000.
The ubiquitous use of surgical meshes in hernia repair is largely due to evidence that meshes reduce the rate of recurrence of hernias, states the FDA. Surgical meshes provide support to the area that suffered the hernia and may also reduce the recovery time after surgery for many patients. While many meshes are non-absorbable implants that remain in the body permanently, there are also absorbable meshes used in hernia repair that are derived from both synthetic substances and animal tissues. Absorbable meshes are not permanent implants. Instead, they are slowly broken down by the body and eventually disappear from the surgical site.
Some patients with small hernias are candidates for watchful waiting rather than immediate surgical repair using a mesh, according to the medical journal Hippokratia. There is also some evidence that surgical meshes may potentially cause infertility in young male patients who undergo surgical repair of inguinal hernias. Infertility results if the mesh constricts the vas deferens and restricts the flow of sperm. Some young men undergoing hernia repair operations are advised to bank their sperm for future use due to this issue.