How Long Can A Hernia Go Untreated

… Continued …

Key points to remember

In general, it’s safe to put off surgery if:

  1. Your hernia is small and doesn’t cause any discomforts /symptoms.
  2. The bulge is reducible with manual pressure, it can be easily pushed back or get smaller with lying down.

Your doctor may also recommend delaying surgery if:

  1. You’re taking particular medications that make surgery dangerous such as blood thinners.
  2. You’re in a situation in which taking surgery can be too much of a risk! For examples if you have a skin infection, poor general health, uncontrolled diabetes, or other health problems.

And you cannot delay surgery or you can only delay it for a short time if:

  1. Your hernia gets incarcerated (trapped) and strangulated. In such case, immediate surgery is required.
  2. Your hernia contains a part of your intestine or other abdominal tissue that may increase the risk of strangulation.
  3. It is able to be reduced with manual pressure, but it causes symptoms severe enough to interfere with your daily life.
  4. In women, surgery is often recommended including for small hernias. Female hernias are less likely to occur without an obvious lump, but they are more likely to cause serious complications such as strangulation. In most cases, a watchful-waiting option is probably not appropriate for women.

Sometimes the type of your hernia matters, too. Because some types tend to cause obstruction or become strangulated!

Compare your options!

Since there are different benefits and risks between surgery and watchful-waiting approach, it’s not bad idea to compare your options. For example, see the following table:

Have early surgery!
What to expect Watchful-waiting doesn’t mean you can ignore your hernia. It and its symptoms will be regularly monitored. So you will have regular checkups to monitor the disease and look for any changes. During surgery, you may be asleep with general anesthetic – or you may just require a local anesthetic and keep awake during operation, depending on several factors (such as your general health, the type and severity of your hernia). If there is no serious problem after surgery, you can go home without needing to stay overnight in the hospital.
Risks A rare complication of hernia, such as strangulation, could occur anytime. Surgery-related complications that may occur after operation include pain, infection, bleeding, allergic reaction to anesthesia, and the risk of damage to nearby organs, nerves, or blood vessels. With prompt procedure, these complications are preventable!

Also, even with surgery, a hernia could return, though the probability of this recurrence is not high.

Benefits You are free from surgery-related complications Surgery can treat and repair your hernia, relieving the bulge (swelling), feeling of heaviness, or other hernia-related discomforts. And the most important thing, it can prevent strangulation and other serious complications of the disease.
Also, ask yourself the following questions!
  1. Will you need to travel to a region /an area where comprehensive health care may be difficult to get? Remember that hernia strangulation is unpredictable and it could occur anytime!
  2. If you take early surgery, do you have a worker’s compensation or an insurance that will help cover the costs? Or are you not worried about the costs?
  3. How about the symptoms? Do they really bother you a lot or do they not bother you at all?
  4. Write down other important reasons that matter most to you!
Article sources:

  1. The Journal of the American Medical Association – Fitzgibbons, R.J.- Jan. 18, 2006; vol 295: pp 285-292.