A hiatal hernia occurs when a small part of your stomach is pushed up out of place and through the muscular diaphragm that separates your digestive organs from your lungs and heart.
Repairing a hernia can be done at the same time as your weight loss surgery, especially if you are having a gastric sleeve or band procedure. Pairing your hiatal hernia repair and your weight loss surgery means that you will have just one operation to recover from and that your body will have the best possible outcome and chances at success.
When Hernia Surgery Is Needed
You might not even realize it if you have a small hernia. A large hernia is likely to cause problems such as heartburn, acid reflux, and vomiting. The hernia is stressful on your body and could even damage your esophagus. A hernia surgery is needed when you are having pain or discomfort from the condition. Hernias are more common in people who are obese, so fixing it at the same time as having your weight loss surgery could prevent it from recurring.
How a Hernia Repair Works
A surgery for a hiatal hernia involves pulling your stomach back down into your abdomen. If there is a tear or hole in the diaphragm, this will also be repaired in order to prevent a recurrence. If the hernia has damaged your esophagus, the surgeon will repair the tissue and tighten or reconstruct the esophageal sphincter. If your weight loss surgery involves a gastrectomy, the surgeon may proceed by removing the hernia sac.
There are several different techniques that are used for the hernia repair. If your abdomen already needed to be opened for your weight loss procedure, the surgeon will likely use a single incision called a laparotomy for both procedures. Otherwise, a laparoscopic surgery for hernia repair could be an option.
Why a Hernia Repair Is Important
A hernia could interfere with the success of your weight loss surgery. Correcting it improves your chances of losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight. The hernia repair surgery also helps to ensure that your body will receive good nutrition. The feeling of fullness that a hernia causes could impact your ability to eat enough. Fixing the hernia can prevent gastrointestinal dysfunction and frustrating problems such as bad breath.