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Umbilical Hernia Repair
What you need to know about an umbilical hernia repair:
An umbilical hernia repair is surgery to fix your umbilical (belly button) hernia. An umbilical hernia may be repaired if the hernia is preventing blood flow to your organs, blocking your intestines, or causing pain. An open repair or laparoscopic repair may be done to fix your umbilical hernia.
How to prepare for an umbilical hernia repair:
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of surgery. He or she will tell you what medicines you should take or not take on the day of surgery. You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. Arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you after surgery. The person can watch for problems and help you around the house.
What will happen during a laparoscopic umbilical hernia repair:
- You will be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your healthcare provider will make a small incision above your belly button. He or she will insert a laparoscope through this incision. A laparoscope is a long metal tube with a light and camera on the end. The provider will insert other instruments by making 2 to 4 smaller incisions at different places on your abdomen. He or she will inflate your abdomen with gas. This will help your provider see your hernia better.
- Your healthcare provider will move your intestines or tissue back into the correct place. Strong stitches will be used to close the opening in your abdominal wall. Mesh may be used to cover or plug the area. Mesh helps prevent the hernia from happening again. Your healthcare provider may close your incisions with stitches, medical glue, or Steri-strips™. He or she may also place a small bandage over the incisions.
What will happen during an open umbilical hernia repair:
- You will be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your healthcare provider will make an incision near your belly button. He or she will move your intestines or tissue back into their correct place.
- Strong stitches may be used to close the opening in your abdominal wall. Mesh may be used to cover or plug the area. Mesh helps prevent the hernia from happening again. Your healthcare provider may close your incision with stitches, medical glue, or Steri-strips™. He or she may also place a small bandage over the incision.
What will happen after an umbilical hernia repair:
Healthcare providers will monitor you until you are awake. You may have pain, bloating, or nausea after your surgery. If you had a laparoscopic repair, you may have pain in your shoulder or near your ribs. This is from the gas used during surgery. Healthcare providers will give you medicine to help decrease pain and nausea. You may be able to go home when your pain is controlled, you can drink liquids, and you urinate.
Risks of an umbilical hernia repair:
You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. A pocket of fluid may form under your skin. You may need treatment to remove it. Your umbilical hernia may return, or you may develop a hernia in a different location. Your intestines may be injured during the surgery. You may get a blood clot in your leg, arm, or lungs. This may become life-threatening.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- Your abdomen feels hard and looks bigger than usual.
- Your bowel movements are black, bloody, or look like tar.
- You have severe abdominal pain.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- Your pain does not get better after you take pain medicine.
- You develop a skin rash, hives, or itching.
- Your incision is swollen, red, or draining pus or fluid.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- You do not have a bowel movement for 3 days or more.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
You can shower 48 hours after your surgery or as directed. Do not take a bath or go in hot tubs. This can cause an infection. Wash around your incision. Let soap and water run over your incision. Gently pat the area dry or let it air dry.
Care for your incision as directed:
Keep your incision clean and dry. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty. If you have Steri-strips™ over your incision, allow them to fall off on their own. If they do not fall off after 2 weeks, gently peel them off. Do not put powders or lotions on your incision. Check your incision every day for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus.
- Eat high-fiber foods. Fiber may prevent constipation and straining during a bowel movement. This can prevent your hernia from returning. Foods that contain fiber include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. You may need to take over-the-counter fiber supplements if you do not get enough fiber in your diet. Ask your healthcare provider if supplements are right for you.
- Drink plenty of liquids. Liquids may prevent constipation and straining during a bowel movement. This will help prevent pressure on your incision. It may also prevent another hernia. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Apply ice on your incision for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
Take short walks around the house every hour. This will help prevent blood clots. Slowly return to your normal activities. Do not play sports or lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for 4 to 6 weeks or as directed. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work and your usual activities.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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