For the last 50 years, repairing a hernia with mesh has been considered the ideal method for hernia repair. This reputation was gained because, despite the potential for hernia mesh side effects, the use of hernia mesh radically reduced the recurrence of hernias.
Hernia mesh usage is extremely common, since they are used in the majority of hernia repairs, and more than a million hernia repairs are made in the United States each year. The majority of repairs are done on inguinal hernias, or those that occur in the inner groin.
The most common types of hernias are:
- Inguinal (inner groin)
- Femoral (upper thigh/outer groin)
- Incisional (incision/scar in abdomen)
- Ventral (abdominal/ventral wall)
- Umbilical (belly button)
- Hiatal (inside abdomen along upper stomach/diaphragm)
What Is Hernia Mesh Made Of?
Hernia mesh is made of synthetic materials. Hernia mesh can be woven or not woven, depending on the product. The most common types of hernia mesh are made from a synthetic kind of plastic known as polypropylene. In some cases, they are coated in a protective layer to make them safe for use near abdominal organs.
Some hernia mesh is made from biological materials, such as human tissue or pig tissue.
The design and features of hernia mesh depend on what kind of product is used. Dr. Andrew T. Bates, Director of the Stony Brook Comprehensive Hernia Center, explains that mesh varies mostly in flexibility and strength.
He explained that some lightweight mesh was found to break more than it should, and was removed from the market as a result. However, most mesh has performed quite well. Reportedly, the hernia mesh recalls that have been necessary have been fairly effective in keeping only safe mesh products on the market.
How Does Hernia Mesh Work?
A hernia occurs when a weakness in a tissue wall allows an internal organ to bulge through. This can be painful and may require surgery. They are typically caused by a combination of two factors: a weak spot on the muscle or connective tissue combined with pressure, causing an organ, intestine, or fatty tissue to be pushed through the opening or weak spot. Hernias can be repaired with or without mesh. In repairing a hernia with mesh, the mesh is inserted laparoscopically or surgically at the site of the hernia, where it provides support to the weakened tissue. The goal is that with the hernia mesh in place, the underlying organ will no longer be able to poke through.
Some hernia mesh is designed to be incorporated by a patient’s body, allowing them to provide support along with the patient’s tissues. Non-absorbable mesh is a permanent implant, and is meant to reinforce the repair site indefinitely. Any hernia mesh complications that arise from this permanent implant may require the mesh to be surgically removed.
Potential Hernia Mesh Complication Symptoms
Dr. Bates explains that because hernia mesh is a foreign object inserted into a patient’s body, it poses some risks. The body recognizes the hernia mesh as a foreign object and may reject it. In this instance, a hernia mesh may need to be removed.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), hernia mesh can also cause pain, adhesion, bowel obstruction or perforation, mesh migration, or even mesh shrinkage (contraction). Any of these complications may require removal surgery.
Additionally, hernia mesh surgery can put a patient at risk for infection. The infection may occur during or after surgery. In either case, infection poses a danger to patients and may require treatment or removal of the mesh.
According to UCI Health, biologic hernia mesh products pose a greater risk of infection than those made from synthetic materials. However, Sages.org explains that some of the benefits of biologic mesh are that it may reduce the foreign body reaction that may occur with synthetic mesh, and may pose less of a risk for chronic inflammation, stiffness, and fibrosis. According to Sages.org, sometimes biologic mesh poses less of an infection risk.
Dr. Bates notes that each patient is different and the kind of mesh that may yield good results in one person may not work well in another.
Some hernia mesh devices have already been recalled due to safety concerns.
Are Hernia Mesh and Weight Gain Related?
According to Weirton Medical, a potential connection between hernia mesh and weight gain may be more linked to hernias themselves — those patients who are overweight may be at a greater risk for developing a hernia. Reportedly, this is because the increased weight may put more strain and pressure on a person’s abdominal muscles and over time may result in a hernia. This means that an overweight person may need a hernia mesh repair to contend with the hernia itself.
Unfortunately, being overweight may also increase a patient’s risk of complications during a hernia mesh surgery. These may include pulmonary embolism or a higher rate of infection. Additionally, overweight patients may also have more problems with wound healing, making recovery from hernia mesh surgery more complicated.
Is Hernia Mesh Removal Dangerous?
Removing a hernia mesh may come with its own set of complications. Additonal surgery may put a patient at risk of additional infection. Because many hernia mesh devices are designed to be absorbed by the body, removing them can be challenging and may pose a danger to the surrounding tissue. For this reason, many hernia mesh products may not be removed after they are inserted.
Hernia Mesh Patient Stories
Countless patients report having been harmed by hernia mesh complications. A man who had surgery in 1994 to repair a hernia with mesh claims that after 16 years, he began to experience complications. He said the mesh had a blowout and he underwent a subsequent surgery to repair the damage. However, the man claims that the second surgery was a disaster and left him with long-term injuries.
“Before the surgery I was happy, worked six days a week, and was always busy,” the man told ABC News. “Now I am on morphine and just sit around in pain.”
Another patient said he became incontinent following a 2013 hernia mesh surgery. In addition to the embarrassment and social isolation caused by the incontinence due to the complications from his surgery, the man also claims that the large size of the mesh makes it impossible for him to lose weight as he experiences intense pain when his stomach size decreases.
A British woman told the BBC that following her hernia mesh repair, she required the use of a cane and was chronically hunched over due to chronic pain. She said the pain was so bad that she eventually had the mesh removed but is left with lingering mobility problems.
Yet another patient who spoke with ABC News reported that his hernia mesh became entangled with his bowel a few years after having the surgical device implanted, resulting in vomiting and a week-long hospital stay. Following several surgeries to repair the complications, the man claims that he continues to experience pain.
How Much Is a Hernia Mesh Lawsuit Worth?
If you had surgery to repair a hernia with mesh, and you were injured as a result, you may have a legal claim. The compensation you could receive depends on your individual case. However, you may be eligible for a range of compensation. This could include payment for physical and emotional injury, compensation for lost wages or medical costs, and possibly payment in the form of punitive damages.
How to Find Hernia Mesh Attorneys
A growing number of hernia mesh patients are coming forward with allegations of these and other major complications after hernia mesh failure. Of course, filing a lawsuit cannot take away the pain and suffering caused by hernia mesh complications, but it can at least help to alleviate the financial burden too often incurred on top of these medical problems.
Filing a lawsuit can be a daunting prospect, especially while dealing with serious medical issues, but Top Class Actions can connect you with an experienced hernia mesh attorney who will be able to tell you if you have a legal claim. An experienced lawyer can review your medical history, find out what kind of hernia mesh was used in your surgery, and determine the best path forward for you.
Join a Free Hernia Mesh Class Action Lawsuit Investigation
Do YOU have a legal claim? Fill out the form on this page now for a free, immediate, and confidential case evaluation. The hernia mesh attorneys who work with Top Class Actions will contact you if you qualify to let you know if an individual lawsuit or class action lawsuit is best for you. [In general, hernia mesh lawsuits are filed individually by each plaintiff and are not class actions.] Hurry — statutes of limitations may apply.
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