Hernia surgery is typically needed because it is possible for the blood supply to the hernia to get cut off, according to WebMD. This "strangulated hernia" sometimes becomes infected, and organ tissue dies. Complications develop, including infection, gangrene, shock and death.
If a hernia is small and symptoms are mild, surgery is not always performed, Heathline states. A hiatal hernia, where the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm, is sometimes treated with dietary and activity changes. Meals are kept small, and, afterward, patients do not recline or bend. Medications are used to control heartburn and acid reflux, reports Mayo Clinic. They reduce acid production, neutralize stomach acid and repair esophageal tissue harmed by acid.
When surgery is performed, the hernia is moved back into place, WebMD describes. Any dead tissue is cut away, and damaged areas are repaired with synthetic mesh. Though a large abdominal incision is sometimes used during "open" surgery, laparoscopic surgery is more common with hernias, Healthline notes. Only a few small incisions are needed, so recovery is much faster. Open surgery patients are generally laid up for six weeks.
Laparoscopic surgery is not appropriate for all hernias, advises Healthline. For example, open surgery is usually performed when part of the intestines has shifted into the scrotum. Also, hernias come back more often after laparoscopic surgery.