Abdominal Wall Reconstruction
The abdomen is comprised of various layers of tissue, fat, and muscle that protect the organs within the abdominal cavity including the stomach, the kidneys, and the small intestine. The muscles of the abdominal wall stabilize the torso and aid in vital functions such as respiration and urination.
Sometimes, the abdominal wall can become weakened due to the formation of complex hernias and the return of a previously repaired hernia. In these cases, the tissues of the abdominal wall need to be restructured. Abdominal wall reconstruction is a surgical procedure used to restore the structural and functional integrity of the abdominal muscles.
Why Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Is Performed
Abdominal wall reconstruction is most often performed on patients who have had unsuccessful hernia repair operations. The goal of abdominal wall reconstruction is to treat any open wounds in the abdominal wall, restructure the tissues, and reinforce the integrity of the muscles.
Abdominal wall reconstruction may be recommended for patients who experience the following:
- Recurrent hernias
- Incisional hernia
- Infection that develops after a surgery
- Wound that develops after a hernia repair
What to Expect During an Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Procedure
Abdominal wall reconstruction is performed under general anesthesia, which means that the patient will be asleep during the procedure. Depending on the complexity of the diagnosis, this procedure can take two to six hours to complete. The procedure is performed through one long incision in the lower abdomen where he/she will access the wound. The surgeon will reshape the abdominal tissues by carefully separating all the layers of the abdominal wall and sliding them into their natural position. These structures may be reinforced using surgical mesh in order to support and strengthen the abdominal muscles.
Risks Associated with Abdominal Wall Reconstruction
Abdominal wall reconstruction is an invasive procedure. As with any surgery, this procedure is associated with certain risks. Possible complications may include:
- Reaction to the anesthesia
- Blood loss
Benefits of Abdominal Wall Reconstruction
The dynamic nature of abdominal wall reconstruction allows surgeons to repair complex hernias and defects of the abdominal wall that are otherwise unyielding when employing traditional hernia repair techniques.
How to Prepare for Abdominal Wall Reconstruction
Pre-procedure instructions will be given to the patient before surgery. It may be necessary to stop eating and drinking at least eight hours before the procedure. Patients who smoke will be asked to refrain from smoking for at least two weeks before surgery. Smoking interferes with the body’s healing process because it restricts the amount of oxygen that flows throughout the body.
Additionally, patients who are currently taking medications should ask their doctor for instructions on whether or not they should take their prescriptions as usual on the days leading up to surgery. Certain medications can affect the body’s ability to clot blood, which can lead to complications during and/or after surgery.
Post Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Treatment
Patients are required to stay in the hospital for approximately five days following abdominal wall reconstruction, depending on the overall health of the patient as well as the extent of the surgery performed. Patients can typically return to daily activities within two to five weeks and regular exercise about six weeks after the procedure. It is important to adhere to all postoperative instructions as well as schedule and attend all necessary follow-up appointments.