Hernia Repair – Epigastric

This page will provide you with information about epigastric hernia repair. For further details, please speak to your consultant.

What is epigastric hernia repair?

A hernia is a hole formed due to weakness in the abdominal wall. One of the first signs of a hernia is a lump or bulge appearing somewhere between the breastbone and navel (the central and upper abdomen). This area is called the ‘epigastrium’ and is where the term ‘Epigastric Hernia’ derives.

Usually the bulge only contains fatty tissue. However, if the hole is particularly large then some gut can also form part of the bulge. Patients usually feel some discomfort which can worsen when coughing or lifting heavy objects.

It is common to mistake a bulge formed between the breastbone and tummy button from gaining weight with a hernia. If this is the case, surgery is rarely recommended.

What causes epigastric hernias?

Usually these hernias form as a result of weakness in the abdominal wall. Factors that can lead to epigastric hernias include: obesity, playing sports, coughing, heavy work or straining.

What happens if they are not treated?

If an epigastric hernia is not treated then the weakness in the abdominal wall can get bigger, on rare occasions leading to it containing loops of the bowel as well. If this happens and the hernia cannot be pushed back in, the bowel can become blocked. This can lead to an increase in pain as well as the added side effects of nausea and vomiting.

What does the treatment comprise of?

Hernias can either be operated on or treated conservatively without the need for surgery. Most patients opt for an operation as hernias can increase in size and become more uncomfortable and noticeable.

It is highly recommended that if you experience these symptoms that you contact your consultant immediately as emergency surgery may be required.

What will happen during the operation?

The operation takes place under either local or general anaesthetic. The incision is made in the abdominal wall overlying the hernia site. The surgeon will then focus on the hernia sac and return the contents to its correct position inside the abdomen. The surgeon will then strengthen the weakness in the abdominal wall that caused the hernia in the first place. A nylon patch or stitches are used to do this.

Risks and complications

Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.


After the surgery, most patients will be free to return home on the same day but in some cases may be required to stay for one or two nights. Pain in the wound or abdominal region is common, with patients sometimes being offered pain relief for the first one or two days either in the form of injections or tablets. A suitable diet sheet will be provided for you to follow. The wound should be healed within five days. After this time the dressing will be removed and you will be able to take a bath or shower. Driving is discouraged for at least a week. Most patients can return to work within two to three weeks if it does not involve heavy lifting or strenuous activities. If your work does involve heavy lifting, then an addition two to three weeks recovery period is recommended.




EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.