Curious about treatment for abdominal pain, hernias, thyroid disorders or other minimally invasive surgeries? Dr. Har Chi Lau and Hudson Valley Surgical Group want to hear YOUR medical questions! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line 'Ask A Doc' for the chance to have your question answered and featured in the next monthly column.
Although nearly 5 million hernias develop annually in the United States, less than 1 million of these occurrences are operated on each year.
"Not all hernias show symptoms, so it’s difficult to know if you have one," said Dr. Har Chi Lau of Hudson Valley Surgical Group, which specializes in minimally invasive hernia surgery. "Some of the most common hernia symptoms are a lump or pain in the groin or upper thigh area. If you notice a lump or swelling, you should get a consult because there are too many factors that go into deciding whether you should get it surgically repaired."
When meeting with a doctor to identify and treat a potential hernia, it's important to seek out an expert in the field and ask to be educated on the entire process. "If you think you have a hernia, seek out an expert opinion," said Lau. "You want to get it done right the first go around. The person with expertise will give you that, and limit infection or recovery issues."
In the initial consult, doctors should be able to talk about each technique's pros and cons. "For people to make a good decision, they have to be educated," said Lau. "They need to see that the doctor takes the time to listen to their complaints and determine if surgery is even necessary."
If a hernia is identified and poses a larger health risk, standard practice is to repair the hole with a mesh screen through minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. However, fixing the hernia itself is only one aspect of surgery -- additional considerations doctors must take into account range from the choices of instrument and the operating team, down to humidity in the room and size of incisions. "Many doctors says these little things are all the same everywhere, but they’re really not," said Lau.
For instance, Lau and the team at HVSG use an unusually low pressure level to expand surgical sites, which makes for a more restricted operating area and offers a reduced risk of patients developing clots or DVT post-surgery.
In hernia surgery, like most medical procedures, recognizing each patient's needs should be at the forefront of every doctor's treatment plan. "Everything we perform is customized to that person," said Lau. "It’s like getting a custom suit, everyone is different. What you need is different than what I may need. That’s where the experience comes in."
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