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Hernia Repair Without “Going Under”

Over the past 20 years, Frederick Nuss, M.D., a General Surgeon with The Iowa Clinic, has used local anesthesia to repair thousands of inguinal and umbilical hernias. His patients thank him.


Your Local Health | Written by BJ Towe

Over the past 20 years, Frederick Nuss, M.D., a General Surgeon with The Iowa Clinic, has used local anesthesia to repair thousands of inguinal and umbilical hernias. His patients thank him.

“It was awesome — I never had any feeling of sedation. It was as if (the medical team and I) were just having a conversation without my also having hernia surgery,” says Barb Mendoza, 47, who had an inguinal hernia repair using local anesthetic last year. Although Mendoza's hernia developed after pregnancy 13 years ago, she put off surgery because she didn't want general anesthetic.

“I've had four knee surgeries using general anesthesia. For three of them, my memory is that I was throwing up before I was even awake. It was horrible,” she says. “When I learned that Dr. Nuss could do my hernia surgery using local anesthetic, that was the ticket for me.”

Each year, Nuss performs approximately 150 tension-free mesh repairs of inguinal and umbilical hernias using local anesthesia. Nuss says, “Local anesthetic avoids having to use spinal or epidural blocks to produce a loss of sensation, which can lead to headache and back problems. Local anesthetic also eliminates the possibility of other common side effects of general anesthesia, such as nausea
and vomiting.”

Although studies conclude that there are no major differences in patient recovery using local or general anesthesia, local anesthetic allows patients to immediately get moving after surgery, walk out of the operating room, and better manage their pain.

Mendoza, who owns Fitness by Design, says, “Having zero recovery time is very, very important to me. I had the surgery on Friday and was back at work training my clients on Monday. It was a piece of cake.”

When Local Anesthetic Can Be Used

Local anesthetic is an effective option for these types of hernia repair:

  • Inguinal — when tissue has pushed through a weak spot in the groin muscle.
  • Umbilical — when part of the intestine, fat, or fluid pushes through a weak spot in the belly.
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