How long can a hernia be left untreated, How urgent is hernia surgery, What happens if you delay hernia surgery, What are the dangers of not repairing a hernia, Reasons Not to Delay Your Hernia Repair, Should I Have Hernia Surgery Now, or Can It Wait. We answer all these questions  in this article.

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Should You Have Hernia Surgery Now, or Should You Wait?

When a patient with hernia is advised surgery, one of the common things they ask us is- sir, should I go for the surgery immediately or do I have some time. If I have sometime how much time do I have? Or how long can I postpone this operation? So why do patients want to postpone the surgery? The reasons can be many. They might have commitments at the office. They have to arrange for leave. There are times the patient is living abroad and wants to travel to home country for the treatment. The cause can be financial where sometimes the patient needs to put together the money required for the surgery. There can be some other family functions which they would want to finish before getting the surgery done. There can be medical reasons where the patient might be having a more serious medical condition which needs attention first before we go to the hernia operation. There are so many reasons why a patient would want the surgery to be postponed. Sometimes even the patient is not psychologically prepared to undergo and needs some more time to gain some confidence when she or he can undergo an operation.

Scenarios When Hernia Needs a Surgery Immediately

So how do we decide which hernias need surgery immediately and which hernias can be safely deferred or postponed? If so, how long can you postpone it? One thumb rules about hernias is, any hernia which is painful, which has brought the patient in an emergency condition to the hospital, the hernia got stuck, it is not going inside and the patient is having sever pain over the hernia needs a surgery right away. There is no doubt about this. There is no question of postponing such a hernia because it has already become complicated.

Scenarios When You can Postpone a Hernia Surgery

On the other hand, hernias which are not an emergency situation – what are the characteristics which we see to decide that this can be safely postponed? We can postpone a small belly button hernia. Generally if the patient is having a good muscle tone and he has a very small belly button hernia which is not causing much symptoms and it has been found during a routine check up, we can postpone the repair of this hernia for a future date safely. Second, the patient should not have any severe cough or any severe straining like difficulty in passing urine or constipation when he has a hernia. Because in such patients the chance of hernia getting stuck outside when the patient coughs vigorously is high. So we generally try to avoid postponing this operation for a longer time and advise the patient to get the surgery done much earlier.

Hernias should be easily reducible. Like if the hernia is not going back freely, if the patient says every one two weeks the hernia gets stuck outside, it does not go back in and then it goes back in after one or two days – these hernias we generally avoid postponing. We go for an early operation. And people who have a hernia, who have a job or a habit of heavy work, like heavy weightlifting in the gym or heavy weightlifting in their jobs, we do not advise them to postpone the hernia. We rather advise them to get the hernia repaired immediately and then resume their job or heavy weightlifting or after three to four months. Then patients who have prostate problems- there we would advise them to fix the prostate problem as early as possible before going for hernia repair.

Conclusion – How long can a hernia be left untreated?

So these are the scenarios where we take into consideration all these factors before advising the patient can postpone his hernia surgery safely or not. There is no safe period where we can say you will be safe till three months and after that there is a risk. That is a very difficult to say. It is a interplay of so many factors. But by and large we can decide which hernias should be operated immediately and which hernias can be postponed to a reasonable time. It is generally advised for all hernias to be repaired surgically because hernias do not become well by themselves. No hernia will disappear and cure by itself. No medicine will make the hole seal itself and make the hernia disappear. So, all hernias invariably need an operation. When and how quickly will depend upon all the factors we discussed now.

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June 2023