Hernia Surgery Patient Care

Are Hernia Belts Effective?

Illustration of abdominal wall muscles on human skeleton
Abdominal wall muscles

Dealing with hernia pain can have a serious impact on your daily activities. Hernia pain might go away when you press on the bulge or lie down flat on your back, but these techniques only provide temporary relief. A hernia belt or hernia truss is designed to provide support and relieve hernia pain throughout the day. While hernia belts can be effective in some situations, surgery is the only way to repair a hernia and eliminate hernia pain in the long term.

What is a hernia?

A hernia is an opening in a weak spot of the abdominal wall muscles. Intestines, fat or other tissue that is normally inside your abdomen can bulge out through the hernia, causing pain and creating a visible lump or protrusion. Although there are different types of hernias—including ventral, umbilical and inguinal—all these types are typically caused by straining your abdominal muscles.

How does a hernia belt or truss work?

A hernia belt is a type of garment that provides support and applies compression to the hernia defect. The belt works by gently pressing the contents of the hernia (the intestines or other tissue that is bulging through the weak spot) back inside the abdomen. Since most hernia pain seems to be caused by the bulging intestines, this compression can provide relief in many cases. The relief usually lasts as long as you are wearing the belt or truss, but the bulge and pain typically returns shortly after you remove the garment.

What are the different types of hernia belts?

Some hernia belts look like a large belt or brace that wraps around the abdomen. These are typically used to provide relief for ventral, umbilical and incisional hernias. Other hernia belts are designed similarly to undergarments with straps to apply compression to inguinal hernias, which occur in the groin area. These different designs allow each type of belt or truss to target the affected area.

When should I use a hernia belt?

If you think you have a hernia, you should meet with your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can perform tests to diagnose your hernia and recommend the best care plan.

Surgery is the only way to fix a hernia and provide a lasting solution for the bulging and pain. Your doctor might recommend using a hernia belt, truss or brace as a “bridge” to surgery. This means you can wear the garment to provide symptom relief until it is time for hernia repair surgery.

Learn more: Washington University Hernia Center

There are several reasons you might need to wait to have hernia surgery. If you develop an umbilical hernia while you are pregnant, your doctor may recommend wearing a hernia belt during your pregnancy and having surgery once you are fully healed after delivering your baby. If you need to get healthy enough for surgery, your surgeon will recommend taking certain steps to improve your health. These lifestyle changes can take time, and a hernia belt may be able to temporarily relieve pain until it is time for your surgery.

If you have just had surgery, or if your hernia is not causing severe symptoms, your doctor may recommend delaying hernia repair surgery. This is sometimes called “watchful waiting.” Your care team will monitor the hernia to notice any changes in symptoms or severity. During watchful waiting, your doctor may recommend wearing a hernia belt or brace if you are having mild pain.

The Washington University Hernia Center

Hernia symptoms will not go away on their own, and there are no non-surgical treatments to fix a hernia. A hernia belt, truss or brace might provide temporary relief, but the bulge and pain can only be repaired with surgery.

The surgeons at the Washington University Hernia Center specialize in treating hernias of all types. Our surgeons have expertise in minimally invasive hernia repair—including laparoscopic and robotic techniques—as well as open surgery. Choosing a surgeon is an important decision. At the Washington University Hernia Center, you have access to a team of dedicated surgeons with the skill to provide a lasting hernia repair.

Our Washington University hernia surgeons offer personalized care, meaning your surgeon will work with you to find the best solution to meet your goals and get you back to living without the constant pain of a bulging hernia. To make an appointment with a hernia surgeon, please call 314-362-9000 or fill out an online appointment form.

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