How Long Can You Wait To Have Hernia Surgery

Hernias are a common condition, with over 100,000 hernia repairs performed in the UK each year. 

Hernias occur when a part of your intestine or fat pushes through a weakened muscle area  (typically your abdominal wall). Some people may have a hernia and not know it until it becomes severe. However, if you are diagnosed with a hernia that isn’t causing you troublesome symptoms, you might be wondering if you still need surgery to treat it. 

In this blog post, we will explain when a hernia is an emergency, why you might need treatment and what happens if you leave a hernia untreated. Discover more about hernia surgery and how important it can be with Mr Achal Khanna

Signs of a hernia emergency

Generally, hernias are not a cause for immediate concern. They develop in the area between your chest and hips and don’t often cause severe symptoms. You may notice a lump or swelling in your abdomen or groin, which you can push back, or it will disappear when you lie down. 

However, sometimes, a hernia is a medical emergency.

You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience the symptoms below: 

  • Sudden, severe pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Difficulty emptying your bowels or passing wind
  • Your hernia becomes firm or tender
  • The hernia lump changes colour or darkens

These symptoms can be a sign your hernia has become strangulated or obstructed. A strangulated hernia is where surrounding muscles clamp down around the hernia, cutting off its blood supply. An obstructed hernia is when a piece of your bowel traps your hernia in a weakened part of your muscular wall and blocks part of your bowel.

Both strangulated and obstructed hernias are a medical emergency. 

When is it OK to delay hernia surgery?

Not everyone has the same experience with hernias. Some people develop hernia pain and other unpleasant symptoms, while others may not. Pain levels can vary from person to person, too. Mild discomfort may not be enough to interfere with your daily life, but as your hernia progresses, it may get worse.

Although hernias do not always cause pain, they can often grow if left untreated. 

Your doctor will advise you to have treatment if your hernia is causing you pain and discomfort. If it’s not causing problems, you could wait for now and see how (and if) it progresses.

When do hernias need surgery?

You should base your decision on what to do about your hernia on your needs. Keep a note of how your hernia affects your daily life. 

The questions to consider when delaying hernia repair surgery are: 

  • Is your hernia causing you pain regularly?
  • Does it affect your confidence?
  • Is it interfering with your social life? 
  • Is your hernia making you feel anxious? 
  • Does your hernia affect your ability to work, leave the house or carry out daily activities?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, it might be time to consider hernia repair surgery.

What can I do to help my hernia at home?

If you decide not to have hernia repair surgery immediately, there are some things you can do at home that may help you manage your condition. 

Staying active is essential. However, some hernias make exercising difficult and cause pain or discomfort. 

Being overweight can increase the pressure on your hernia and worsen your symptoms. Losing weight may help. It also reduces weight-related hernia surgery risks.

Constipation can cause pain around your hernia as the added strain puts pressure on it. Try eating more fibre and whole grains to support your digestive system and reduce your risk of constipation.

Risks of delaying hernia surgery: hernia complications

Although you can do many things at home, delaying surgery has some risks. One of the main ones is your hernia becoming strangulated or obstructed – both are medical emergencies.

Another risk of delaying hernia surgery is your symptoms can worsen over time if your hernia grows. Surgery becomes more complicated the larger the hernia, and the more complex the operation, the higher the risk of complications during surgery and your recovery. 

Having hernia repair surgery on a smaller hernia is much simpler, and your recovery can also be quicker. 

Hernia surgery waiting times and private hernia treatment 

The NHS can carry out hernia repair surgery. However, waiting times can be significant. On average, patients are now waiting around 18 months to 2 years, depending on the hospital’s location and demand. 

Opting for private hernia repair surgery can be a faster way to access your healthcare. Private healthcare offers quick appointments, which can be beneficial when experiencing hernia symptoms requiring surgery. 

The sooner you receive treatment, the faster a surgeon can repair your hernia and alleviate your symptoms. 

Book an appointment with Mr Achal Khanna

Hernias may not always need immediate surgery, but over time, they can worsen, and your risk of complications can increase. At Mr Achal Khanna’s private practice in Milton Keynes, we offer laparoscopic (keyhole) and robotic surgery. Both are minimally invasive to give you effective results and an enhanced recovery.

If you’re experiencing signs of a hernia you would like treated, book a consultation with Mr Achal Khanna. His vast experience performing minimally invasive hernia repair gives you access to advanced surgical techniques and complete hernia repair.