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Open hernia repair vs. laparoscopic hernia repair: What’s the difference?

Hernia repair surgery is a treatment option for patients with hernias that are painful enough to affect their everyday lives. A hernia is when internal tissue protrudes through a weakness in the surrounding muscle. Hernias aren’t always harmful, but they won’t go away without surgery. During hernia repair surgery, a surgeon gently pushes the organ or other internal tissue back into place and closes the hole in the muscle wall. Often, surgical mesh is used to add strength and support to the muscles as they grow back together.

If your doctor has recommended hernia repair surgery, it’s usually because your hernia is growing or causing chronic pain. When you schedule your hernia repair, you will have two options—open hernia repair and laparoscopic hernia repair. Below, learn the differences between open vs. laparoscopic hernia repair surgery so that you can decide which option is best for you.

Open vs. laparoscopic hernia repair: What’s the difference?

Hernia repair surgery, both laparoscopic and open, is usually an outpatient procedure. This means that you will be able to go home a few hours after your surgery is finished. Both procedures require general anesthesia, or a local anesthesia and sedation. Either way, you will not feel pain during the surgery.

There is no difference in the rates of hernia recurrence for open and laparoscopic hernia repair surgeries. Though the two types of procedures have different recovery times, post-surgery recommendations are similar.  These include returning to light activities (such as walking) as soon as possible but avoiding any activities that put a strain on the site of your hernia.

What is open hernia repair surgery?

During open hernia repair surgery, also called traditional hernia repair, the surgeon makes a large incision over a hernia. They gently push the protruding tissue back into place before closing the weakened muscle area with either sutures or a combination of sutures and surgical mesh. Then, they close the incision with stitches.

This option allows surgeons to have a more complete view of the area surrounding the hernia. For this reason, open hernia repair procedures often have fewer complications during surgery and shorter operating times.

What is laparoscopic hernia repair surgery?

In laparoscopic hernia repair surgery, the surgeon operates through a series of small incisions around a hernia. They use a thin tube with a camera at the end, called a laparoscope, to guide the hernia repair. During this surgery, your stomach will be inflated with carbon dioxide, a harmless gas, to allow the surgeon more room to operate.

After a hernia is gently pushed back into place, the surgeon closes the hole in the muscle wall, similar to the procedure for open hernia repair surgery. When the operation is over, the small incisions will be closed with surgical tape or stitches. As your body heals, the cuts from your hernia repair surgery will become barely visible.

Because of the nature of the procedure, surgeons need special training to be able to perform laparoscopic hernia repair surgery. In addition, special surgical equipment is required for laparoscopic procedures. These factors can cause laparoscopic hernia repair to be more expensive than open hernia repair surgery.

Laparoscopic hernia repair surgery is associated with less blood loss during surgery. In addition, patients who undergo laparoscopic surgery have been shown to have less pain and numbness during the recovery process. Because of the smaller incisions, laparoscopic surgery often leads to shorter recovery times than open surgery. Laparoscopic hernia repair patients are typically back to their normal activity levels a week sooner than open hernia repair patients.

Open vs. laparoscopic hernia repair: Which option is right for you?

There are many factors that you should consider when deciding which type of hernia repair surgery is right for you. Some of these include:

  • The size and placement of a hernia
  • The risk for complications
  • The surgeon’s skill level
  • Your surgery budget
  • Your medical history and overall health

Talk with your physician about these factors, as well as any concerns that you may have about your hernia repair. They will help you decide which type of surgery is best for your specific situation.

Open vs. laparoscopic hernia repair: How much should you pay?

Whether you choose open or laparoscopic hernia repair surgery, you should be comfortable with your decision. If you are unsure about your choice, or your physician’s recommendations, you have the right to a second opinion. For patients that are concerned about paying for hernia repair surgery, there may be more options than you think. New Choice Health’s Hernia Assist program can help you find financing options to lower the cost of your hernia repair surgery. The national average price for hernia surgery is $7,750, but the hernia assistance program could lower that by as much as $4,000. Use New Choice Health’s Patient Assist program to find a fair cost for your hernia repair surgery today.

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