Hiatal Hernia Surgery Recovery: 5 Important Things to Remember!

Hiatal Hernia Surgery Recovery

A hiatal hernia is a condition in which a section of the stomach slips or is pushed through an opening in the diaphragm that serves as a barrier between the chest and abdomen. It is a very common condition that can be caused by many things including genetics, heredity, violent coughing or bowel movements, lifting, obesity, pregnancy and more. Many people have no symptoms and most have mild symptoms associated with the condition. However, in more rare cases, symptoms can be severe or the physical manifestation of the hernia can change to a more dangerous condition. In these cases, a hiatal hernia repair surgery may be considered by a healthcare provider. There are varying types of surgical ways to correct the condition, and each comes with its own risks and benefits, including hiatal hernia surgery recovery factors to consider.

It is important to understand just what occurs when a surgery for a hiatal hernia occurs. The symptoms related to the condition are caused by stomach acid that escapes into the esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which creates irritation and inflammation in the esophagus because it is not lined to protect itself from the volatile fluid like the stomach is. A hiatal hernia does not directly cause acid to move into the esophagus; rather it may cause a movement or shift in the location of the sphincter that is supposed to correct this process, which in turn can result in symptoms. This fact is important to remember when considering hiatal hernia surgery recovery, because it can become an issue later even following the procedure.

In most cases with emergencies excepted, a surgical repair of a hiatal hernia is only considered when every other treatment for hiatal hernia symptoms has been considered. This can include many things but most often begins with medications. Proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor blockers are often prescribed and are either used alone or in conjunction with lifestyle, dietary changes and alternative forms of treatment. These methods are employed because they can very often reduce or even eliminate the discomfort associated with the condition, and completely eliminate the need for surgery altogether which can reduce the risk of complications from the procedure as well as the considerations associated with hiatal hernia surgery recovery.

A surgery to correct a hiatal hernia may seem like a simple procedure; however there are lots of things that occur during the corrective operation that can not only increase the risk of hiatal hernia surgery complications but also affect the days, weeks and months that follow the procedure. During the period of recovery from hernia surgery, the after effects of the corrective actions taken become more apparent. Operations to correct hernias not only push the stomach back into place, but also tighten the opening through which the hernia occurred and in most cases, staple the stomach to the esophagus to prevent recurrent bouts of reflux. These multiple solutions can provide a great deal of benefit to people who have struggled daily with symptoms, but can definitely bring about problems of their own, especially in the short term. As a result, there are some very important things to remember about hiatal hernia surgery recovery before going under the knife to make sure that expectations are realistic.

1. The Type of Procedure Greatly Affects Recovery Time: There are three ways in which a hiatal hernia can be corrected and each type is very different from one another. Open surgery is the most invasive and therefore leads to the longest amount of time for hiatal hernia surgery recovery required. The second and most common type is laparoscopic, which involves multiple small incisions and is associated with a greatly reduced period of recovery. But, new technology has made possible a way to use tools and cameras inserted through the mouth to make the repairs, which means no cutting is required and therefore an even more greatly reduced period of hiatal hernia surgery recovery. It is important to remember that the outside cuts are not the only factor that comes into play during recovery, and even if no external cuts are made, insides are still being manipulated which means no procedure comes without any recovery.

2. Lifestyle is Important Even after Surgery: An operation is not a green light to completely ignore the dietary and lifestyle changes that are recommended before the operation occurs in the first place. A hiatal hernia can be the underlying cause of reflux related conditions, and a surgery to repair it can greatly reduce the risk of acid reflux altogether. However, abstaining from hiatal hernia foods to avoid, like hot sauce, as well as fatty foods, fried foods, sugary or caffeinated foods and carbonated beverages is still important both during hiatal hernia surgery recovery and beyond.

3. There are Both Short Term and Long Term Effects: In many cases, surgical procedures lead to a few days or even a few weeks of discomfort. However, the types to repair hiatal hernias are somewhat different. For instance, common side effects like bloat from the gases used dissipates quickly, often in a couple of days. However, other side effects like dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) can exist long after the initial period of hiatal hernia surgery recovery, even for months afterwards. It too usually dissipates, but can last three months or more in some people. In addition, while a one night hospital stay for laparoscopic procedures and a several night hospital stay for open procedures gives way to just three weeks of recovery time, longer term consequences include not partaking in strenuous activity for months after the procedure.

4. Complications are Uncommon, But Do Occur: It is not common for complications related to the repair of a hiatal hernia to occur and they are considered very, very rare. However, in some cases, complications like damage to the stomach, esophagus or other affected areas has occurred. These complications can lead to serious problems in some individuals that could lead to subsequent surgeries or other health conditions. However, hiatal hernia surgery is generally regarded as very safe and it is a very common procedure.

5. The Surgery Cannot Be Considered Permanent: Although major repairs are made to the parts of the body that contribute to hiatal hernia symptoms, there is no way to guarantee that a hiatal hernia will not recur. Unfortunately, even people who are willing to go through the process of treating before surgery, the actual procedure and then hiatal hernia surgery recovery cannot be guaranteed that they will not have to do it again. Of course, there are lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce the risk of the condition recurring, but a guarantee there is not.