Using mesh for hernia repairs significantly decreases the risk of the hernia coming back (recurrence). In groin hernias, placing mesh to strengthen the inguinal area is the standard of care. Non-mesh repairs have a recurrence rate 2 to 4 times that of mesh repairs (up to 15% risk of recurrence). In hernias of the mid- and upper- abdomen recurrence rates without mesh are even higher (up to 20-30%). These hernias are almost always repaired laparoscopically (just a few small incisions) which requires the use of mesh to cover the hernia opening. There are unique situations where non-mesh, open (bigger incision) repairs are appropriate. Dr. Farrow can discuss these specific options with you.
Pain after a hernia repair can be short-term (post-operative pain) or long-term (chronic). Post-operative pain is reduced by performing laparoscopic hernia repairs. These minimally invasive repairs require the use of mesh to cover the hernia opening. By patching the opening (with mesh) instead of pulling the hernia edges together (non-mesh) there is less tension on the wound and less pain in the early post-operative period. Chronic pain that interferes with work or daily activities can occur in up to 5% of patients with a mesh hernia repair in the groin. The risk of this pain in other hernias (umbilical, ventral, or incisional) is even lower (less than 5%). Furthermore the risk of chronic pain is lower in laparoscopic groin hernia repairs compared to open repairs.
So why all the commercials? Three reasons: