General Surgery Blogs

Dr. Steven Williams in Boise, Idaho

03Jan

Is Hernia Mesh Bad?

Dr. Steve Williams | Hernia Repair | | View Counts (1868) |Return|

The answer to this question is easy! No!

But, mesh does have its limitations and certainly, there can be complications of hernia mesh. It is these complications that have been publicized and given mesh a bad name in some people’s minds. For me, individually, I do not believe that all hernias require mesh for repair and I strongly believe that if mesh is not needed, it should not be used. Hernia mesh is a tool. It is available for the surgeon to incorporate into a hernia repair if it will do certain things such as decrease hernia recurrence risks, increase the chances that the patient will not only have the hernia repaired, but have better quality of life, such as better form and function than before the repair, and provide a platform for healing. This is the role of hernia mesh. Mesh products have been greatly advanced by modern science as well as trial and error through the decades.

The hernia mesh products which are available now are far superior to the mesh products available only 20 years ago. Synthetic meshes made of plastic polymers are now thinner, lighter, and allow the patient’s tissue to grow into the mesh itself, strengthening the repair. Biologic and bio-absorbable mesh products which exist now allow the surgeon to be able to place a buttress or patch to help hold the repair together during the critical healing process, but yet the patient’s body absorbs the mesh over time so that no foreign body remains within the patient after the healing is complete. There is some evidence that these meshes provide a scaffolding that the patient’s body can then fill with healing cells such as stem cells to populate the area of repair with robust tissue which gives better quality and provides improved movement and function to the area. It is appropriate to have questions about whether mesh is needed for your hernia repair, what other options may be available, and what the recurrence risk of the repair would be with or without the mesh.

But, do not be afraid of mesh because you have heard of particular class action lawsuits or of an internet blogger’s story. Hernia meshes are placed thousands of times in America and throughout the world every day and are an invaluable tool for your surgeon. A surgeon with experience and who routinely performs many of the types of repair that you require should be able to answer all of your questions regarding the pro’s and con’s of mesh. You can research the internet, but be aware of false information and those that spread fear because of their ignorance and what they attribute to their “mesh repair” instead of other factors which caused their infection, recurrence, or other complication. Correct mesh use in today’s practice of general surgery should have a complication rate less than 3%. In other words, I believe that at least 97% of my patients should have absolutely no problems with mesh if I placed it.

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Practicing General Surgery in the Boise area since 2002