Recently I have encountered several patients who had unsuspected hernias found during their abdominoplasty. While this is really not that unusual, it is generally surprising to the patient. What is a hernia? Basically it is a “hole” in the abdominal wall, through which either fat or intestine can “poke through”. It is usually not much of a problem but can become a medical emergency if whatever “pokes out” gets caught and can’t get back in. This can cause pain and swelling. If severe it can require emergency surgery, performed by general surgeons. The most frequent place I find hernias are beneath the umbilicus (belly button). This is a naturally weak area because of the umbilical cord which nourished us as a fetus.
In any event during an abdominoplasty the skin and fat are lifted off the abdominal wall and the hernias come in to view. They are usually easily repaired and in fact the repair is reinforced by the usual muscle tightening which is done. Usually the hernias can be felt prior to surgery, but sometimes, like earlier this week, I found some in two different patients. Hernia repair itself is actually medically necessary and that portion of the surgery is covered by insurance plans.
Hope this helps to explain some things about hernias. Let me know what you think.