Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? Here are frequently asked questions about the Hernia Institute of Florida and about hernia surgery.

What is a hernia?

There are many kinds of hernias, but a typical hernia is a tear in the muscle that separates the abdomen from the groin. An abdominal organ pushes through the hole and is felt as a bulge in the groin. When the patient lies down, the organ settles back into the abdomen. The repair is to close the hole.

Won’t the hole eventually heal by itself?

No. A hernia will never heal. Surgery is the only way to fix it.

My hernia is uncomfortable, but having a hernia isn’t dangerous, is it?

Normally not. But if an organ becomes trapped and cannot return to the abdomen, it is possible that blood flow can be cut off. This can result in a condition called strangulation, a life-threatening emergency.  

What is the Hernia Institute of Florida?

The Hernia Institute of Florida is a medical practice that specializes in hernia repairs. While hernias usually are repaired by general surgeons who may do one hernia surgery every couple weeks, the doctors at the Hernia Institute do nothing but hernia repair, performing more than a thousand surgeries a year. It is one of only a few facilities in the world that specialize in hernias, and has become well-known internationally for the quality of its work.

Where is the Hernia Institute located?

We are in South Miami, Florida, located in the ambulatory care center at South Miami Hospital, which recently was named one of the best 100 hospitals in the United States. The doctor’s offices and the operating rooms are conveniently located in the same building.   

What does it cost to repair a hernia?

Your cost depends on the surgery necessary to repair your particular kind of hernia. You should call the Hernia Institute at 1-800-A-HERNIA (or 305 667-7878) to get this information.

How many operations have been done at the Hernia Institute of Florida?

The doctors at the Hernia Institute of Florida have performed more than 35,000 hernia repairs over the past 25 years, more than anywhere else in the United States. They have used the new Prolene Hernia System developed at the Hernia Institute 3,500 times – more often than any other facility in the world. 

What is the new Prolene Hernia System?

It is a revolutionary device developed at the Hernia Institute of Florida and now being manufactured and marketed world-wide by Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The Prolene Hernia System is a mesh patch that covers the hernia on both sides. It allows for a tension-free repair that reduces patient discomfort, gets the patient back to a normal routine more quickly, and virtually eliminates surgical failures, which have been a common problem in hernia repair until now. Without using mesh, 15-20% of hernia repairs fail and need to be redone. With the new Prolene Henia System, in over 3500 cases, the recurrence rate is less than 1/2 %. 

How does the procedure at the Hernia Institute compare to laparoscopic surgery?

Most experts now agree that laparoscopic surgery, while wonderful for gall bladders and certain other procedures, is not the best way to treat hernias. It is more expensive, has a higher complication rate, and requires general anesthesia.  Patients at the Hernia Institute almost always go home the same day. Also, patients are under increased risk with general anesthesia during laparoscopic surgery and in hernia repair it is important that the patient be awake during surgery. The patient is asked to cough during the operation, which helps the surgeon be sure that the repair has worked. About 15% of the time there is a second hernia present that was unknown before the surgery began, and is identified and repaired only because the patient is awake and able to cough during the procedure.  For these reasons, most surgeons who originally tried the laparoscopic repair for primary hernias have returned to the open surgical technique.

How long will I be in the hospital?

The majority of hernia surgeries allow for the patient to go home the same day. Most patients come in the morning and are on the way home in a few hours.

Does the operation take long?

The actual operation usually takes about 45 minutes. The rest of the time is spent in preparing the patient for surgery, and in recovery afterward. 

How long will I be incapacitated after surgery?

The beauty of the Prolene Hernia System used by the Hernia Institute is that the tension-free repair promotes rapid recovery. Patients typically are up and about the same day. Many feel up to going out to dinner in the evening after having surgery that morning. While every person is different, most patients are back to normal activity in about a week. Patients with desk jobs – particularly those who are self-employed – usually find their way back to their desks in two or three days.

Am I too old to have hernia surgery?

Patients at the Hernia Institute have been as young as 19 months and as old as 90 years. Men, by the way, get hernias 30 times more frequently than women – a result of physiology. The spermatic cord passes through the abdominal muscle in men, creating a natural weak spot where most hernias form.

Will I hurt after surgery?

Half of the patients take extra-strength Tylenol; many patients do not take any medication at all. Some patients require stronger pain medicine for one or two days. An ice pack on the day of surgery and the next day is most helpful. 

I don’t live in Florida. Do people come to the Hernia Institute from out of state?

Yes. In fact, about half of our patients are from outside Miami-Dade County. The Hernia Institute gets patients from all over the United States and Latin America. There is an active fly-in, drive-in program and a concierge program, and the staff is experienced in getting people from the airport to a local hotel, and then to and from the Hernia Institute. When patients come from out of the area, we try to arrange the schedule so they are examined in the afternoon, have surgery the next morning, and then are examined and sent home the next day – two nights in a hotel. Many patients, of course, take the opportunity to have an extended vacation in South Florida.

Does it matter if my hernia is work-related?

Not to the patient. But much of the work at the Hernia Institute is done under contract with companies and insurers to care for patients who get hernias on the job. We strive to see these patients as quickly as possible and get them back to work as quickly as possible. Many companies fly in patients from other states because of the Hernia Institute’s track record in reducing the amount of time an employee is out of work. For more information about work-related hernias, please call us.   

How do I make an appointment?

For an appointment or more information, please call the Hernia Institute at 305 667-7878 or, outside of Miami-Dade County, call toll-free 1-800-A-HERNIA, or leave us an e-mail message.