Signs & Symptoms of a Hernia After Weight Loss Surgery

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According to information from the medical website Medline Plus, a hernia is a fairly common medical condition that occurs when a small hole or tear develops in the tissue surrounding the abdomen, allowing a portion of the digestive tract--normally the intestines--to "leak" through. A hernia is a problem that will not go away on its own. It often becomes worse over time, necessitating medical intervention and surgery to properly treat. Therefore, you should become aware of the signs and symptoms of a hernia so that you know when a doctor's aid will be necessary.

Hernia After Bariatric Surgery

Understand that there are two main types of hernia that can be brought about by recent weight loss surgery. These include internal hernias and incisional hernias, with the internal hernia being considered more of a medical emergency than the incisional hernia, according to the Weight Control Information Network. An internal hernia occurs where the small intestine escapes into a pocket within the abdomen itself (presenting no visible symptoms), whereas an incisional hernia is a portion of the digestive tract that escapes the "fascia" (connective lining) of the abdomen (creating a bulge near the incision). These situations tend to present themselves in individuals who are morbidly obese (most candidates for bariatric surgery), with an incident rate of roughly 15 percent, according to information from the Permanente Journal.

Signs and Symptoms

Diagnosing either an internal or incisional hernia following bariatric surgery can be difficult, due to the fact that symptoms are often intermittent and easily overlooked. The incisional hernia is often easier to detect, as it usually causes a noticeable bulge in the area of the surgical incision. This may or may not be accompanied by pain or physical discomfort, but where physical discomfort occurs, it can be exacerbated by activities that strain the muscles of the abdominal wall, such as coughing or lifting heavy weights. Regarding an internal hernia, the primary symptom is that of small bowel obstruction, which can include symptoms such as vomiting, abdominal fullness, pain, cramping, abnormal breath odor, and bowel movement issues like constipation and diarrhea. Although some of these problems overlap with common occurrences following bariatric surgery, you should make it a point to schedule an appointment with your doctor to get tested for an internal hernia if any of these symptoms arise. During testing, your doctor will use imaging procedures (either X-ray or CT scan) to map your internals to determine whether there is indeed a hernia present.

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