A hernia is often visible outside the body as a bulge. In fact, the appearance of a visible bulge is usually the first sign that a hernia may be present in the body.

Technically, a hernia results when a weakness in the abdominal wall allows the contents of the abdomen - such as the gut - to push through. For some people, the bulge can actually come and go, depending upon how you are sitting or standing, for example. If you have a hernia, you could also feel pressure or discomfort when coughing, lifting heavy objects, going to the bathroom, or doing any type of strenuous activity.

Hernias are not always painful. In fact, some people suspect they have a hernia but are not sure, since it may go away and then come back. It may feel to the touch like a fat deposit and show no signs of bruising under the skin. Once your doctor diagnoses the bulge as being a hernia, he or she will usually recommend surgery.

Contrary to popular belief, hernias usually do not occur suddenly. Rather, in many cases they can take years to develop. Gradually and over time, the abdominal wall weakens, allowing the contents of the abdomen to start protruding through the wall.

Types of Hernias:

There are a number of types of hernias. They are classified differently depending upon their location on the body. Types include:

* incisional: develops at the site of a previous surgery

* umbilical: occurs at the belly button, or navel

*
inguinal: develops in the groin

* femoral: just below the groin

* epigastric: upper abdomen at the midline

Hernia Surgery:

Surgery is a fairly straightforward procedure. The area is opened up so that the doctor can view the affected area. In many cases, a mesh is sewn into the area to strengthen the abdominal wall. At that time, the gut or abdominal contents are pushed back through the opening, thereby eliminating the bulge.

After Surgery:

After surgery, it is important to resume regular activities. Some people make the mistake of avoiding all exercise after surgery. However, this is not recommended, as the abdominal wall needs the chance to become stronger. Take walks and keep the body moving.

You will want to avoid more strenuous physical activities, however. Also, after surgery, you may feel burning or swelling around the incision. It may remain sore for a few days. For men, the scrotum or penis could become slightly bruised or swollen. All of these symptoms will go away within a few days.

Still a Bulge After Hernia Surgery:

After surgery, a handful of patients may still be able to see a bulge at or near the surgery site. This is almost certainly not the original hernia, since this has been repaired. More likely, it is the site of a new and different hernia that has developed. If you suspect this is the case, it is important to visit your doctor right away for a consultation. A bulge after surgery is not a normal condition and should be checked out immediately.