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Will My Stomach Shrink After Hernia Repair?

Hernias can definitely be a pain - quite literally! That uncomfortable bulging and occasional stabbing discomfort is your body's way of saying something's not right. 

While small hernias may seem harmless, they can lead to complications over time. Surgery is often needed to close up and reinforce weak spots where organs or tissue squeeze through abdominal muscles. 

It's normal to have some swelling or bloating around the site post-op while things heal. However, this sudden puffy tummy can make patients wonder – “Will my stomach shrink back to normal eventually after hernia repair?” “Or am I destined to look a few months pregnant forever?” “How can I find top hernia doctors near me that’ll come to my rescue?”

Don't worry – we’ll answer these questions and more in today’s post. We’ll also show you why bloating happens, as well as give tips to reduce it faster and fully return to your usual shape. 

Let’s get started!

What Causes Hernia in the Abdominal Region?

There are a few common culprits:

  • Chronic coughing/vomiting - All that force puts pressure on the abdomen.
  • Diabetes or other conditions - Certain diseases weaken tissues.
  • Lifting heavy things - Makes abdominal muscles work overtime.
  • Injuries, obesity, pregnancy - All can stretch and thin the abdominal wall.
  • Prior surgeries - Incisions from other operations sometimes don't heal optimally.

Essentially, a bulge can form over time if there's underlying strain, stretching, or inherent abdominal wall weakness.

How Serious is Abdominal Hernia Repair?

Now for the good news – abdominal/ventral hernia repair risks are low these days, especially if an experienced hernia surgeon uses a minimally invasive approach. Many smaller ventral hernias can even be fixed as an outpatient surgery.

Larger or more complex cases may require a 1–2-day hospital stay. But major complication rates should remain under 1% with the right hands at work. The procedures are common and generally very safe.

The Basis of Swelling After Hernia Surgery 

Swelling after surgery is your body's dramatic way of sounding the alarm bells that trauma occurred. All the poking, prodding, and rearranging during a hernia repair procedure inevitably scares your system a bit.

First, the hernia surgeon must cut through various skin and abdominal muscles layers to access the faulty area. Just entering the abdominal cavity exposes it to air, so extra air is often pumped in to give the surgeon room to work.

Although they remove as much excess air as possible before closing up, some inevitably get trapped inside post-surgery. It takes time to reabsorbed and release from the body, especially since staples, stitches, or surgical glue are used to seal the external incision site. 

Next, your immune system kicks into overdrive internally in response to the trauma. Blood circulation and fluid production surge to the region to transport infection-fighting cells and proteins needed for healing. When a bruise swells up and changes color, this influx of fluid and blood leads to unsightly puffiness and discoloration around hernia repair sites as the area heals.

When Will the Swelling End?

That timeline can vary from person to person. Most people deal with some degree of inflammation and fluid buildup for the first 1-2 weeks post-op. But for some, the swelling takes its time fading - sticking around for many weeks or even months in rare cases.

Several factors affect how quickly the puffiness starts to subside:

  • How complex the repair procedure was - more complicated equals more trauma equals more dramatic swelling.
  • Your age - older bodies tend to need more recovery time.
  • Size of the hernia - larger equals larger surgical site equals larger swelling reaction.
  • Daily habits - poor diet, inactivity, and unhealthy behaviors prolong inflammation.

Will My Stomach Shrink After Hernia Repair?

Well, not directly - the stomach itself stays the same size. However, some secondary factors can lead to a flatter, firmer abdomen after the swelling subsides.

If a hernia is causing bloating or protruding outward, fixing it can take pressure off and tighten things up. Building stronger core muscles through activity post-surgery also helps create a more toned tummy over time.

Tips to Relieve Swelling After Hernia Repair

It's totally normal to experience some swelling and bloating post-surgery. But the good news is there are small things you can do to help minimize discomfort during the healing process! 

Choose Foods That Reduce Bloating 

I recommend sticking to fruits, veggies, and other nutrient-dense foods in the initial recovery period. Things like avocados, berries, cucumbers, ginger, and bananas are all great options that can help prevent gas buildup. On the flip side, try to avoid greasy meals, dairy, or sodas for now - these tend to irritate the digestive system. The better you fuel your body, the less inflammation you'll deal with!

Stay Regular Bowel Movement-wise

Keeping your bowel movements frequent and soft is crucial for feeling comfier as you recover. Constipation, unfortunately, allows gas and bloating to build up. The anesthesia, surgery, and medication can make digestive slowdown a real issue. Consider a gentle stool softener to ease bowel movements and reduce abdominal expansion from the trapped gas. The more regular you are, the less cramped and distended things will feel!

Walk It Out 

Believe it or not, staying lightly active can tremendously help minimize swelling and support healing! Nothing intense - listen to your body to avoid overexertion. Some gentle walking or range of motion exercises get things moving internally too. Just be mindful not to overstretch tissues at the tender surgery site. 

Get Plenty of Rest 

Healing takes lots of rest! Make sure to create time for relaxation as your body repairs itself - minimize disruptions or excursions at first. Consider this as permission to nap and take it easy without distractions.

Follow Post-Op Instructions 

Before discharge, your hernia doctor will share guidelines for recovering comfortably at home. Be sure to stick to these! Strictly following their custom recovery plan minimizes risks and complications down the line. Don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions either - the more you understand the instructions, the smoother your healing.

Don't Skip Follow-Ups 

It's tempting to cancel if you feel okay, but those post-op check-ins are mandatory! Monitoring your progress regularly enables the hernia surgeon to confirm you're healing as expected and catch any hiccups early. 

Key Takeaways

Temporary swelling is totally normal post-op as your body kicks into healing mode. So, no need to panic! 

Patience is key over the next few weeks while the inflammation resolves itself and things settle into place. Also, maintaining good nutrition and an active lifestyle after surgery is what really transforms your body for the better.

Lastly, maintaining open communication with your surgical team allows you to voice any questions or concerns along the way. So, do a quick online search of “Top hernia surgeons near me” to ensure quality healthcare. Their guidance, combined with patience and self-care, will have you looking and feeling like your best self again soon!

Dr. Rockson Liu is One of the Best General and Hernia Surgeons in the United States

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“Dr. Rockson Liu performed colon surgery on me. I had full confidence in his skills and was very pleased with his performance. He explained thoroughly about using the robot in surgery as I was hesitant about its use. His bedisde manner is extraordinary and the way he cares for his patients is outstanding. He came to visit me on his day off in the hospital after surgery, as I was recovering. I was very pleased that I got such a skilled surgeon who is also a wonderful person.”

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Meet Dr. Rockson Liu, MD, FACS

The leading minimally-invasive, robotics-assisted general surgeon in the country

With 1000+ minimally-invasive, robotics-assisted surgeries completed, and a 100% success rate in ending recurrent hernias other surgeons were unable to solve, Dr. Liu has made a name for himself as the premier minimally-invasive general surgeon in the United States. 

Dr. Liu approaches every surgery with technical mastery and creative problem-solving. Those two skills allow for a faster recovery, minimal pain, and reduced scarring. 

About Dr. Liu

The leading minimally-invasive general and hernia repair surgeon on the West Coast, serving patients in the greater SF Bay Area. 

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