What Do Different Hernia Types Look Like?

You develop a hernia when an internal body part pushes through the tissue or muscle that holds it in place. This will make you notice a soft bulge or swelling under your skin. There are different types of hernias and that makes people ask, "What does a hernia look like?" What type of hernia you have depends on the location of swelling or bulge. Some hernia can only be seen when you are standing, while others may only become visible when you strain your muscles by sneezing, coughing, lifting, or bending. In most cases, the bulge is so soft that you can push it back into your abdomen. Do you think you have a hernia but you are not sure? Keep reading to learn more about it.

What Does a Hernia Look Like?

You may develop different types of hernias depending on the location of the bulge. Here is a bit more about how different types of hernias look like.

1. Inguinal Hernia

It occurs in about 2% of men and is the most common type of hernia in the United States. These hernias are further divided into two categories – direct and indirect. This type of hernia appears at the top of the thigh where it joins the torso. There may be a little variation in their location though.

  • Indirect inguinal hernia is in the pathway used by the testicles during pre-birth phase to descend into the scrotum. Usually, the pathway closes on its own before birth, but it's still a possible place for a hernia to occur. It is even possible to see the hernial sac to protrude into the scrotum.
  • Direct inguinal hernia may appear a bit inside of the site of the indirect hernia. This is the place where the abdominal wall is slightly thinner. This type of hernia usually does not protrude into the scrotum.

What Does It Look Like?

You may not notice any symptoms with some inguinal hernias; in fact, you might not know you have one. However, it is possible to feel the bulge in the scrotum or groin. The bulge usually takes time to appear, but it can form suddenly after coughing, lifting heavy weights, straining, bending, or laughing. It is also possible to experience swelling, heaviness, and a tugging sensation in the area of the hernia, inner thigh, or scrotum. Women will have a bulge in the labia around the vagina and men will notice swelling in scrotum.

2. Femoral Hernia

Your muscles are usually quite strong to keep your organs and intestines in place. However, you may notice intra-abdominal tissues protruding through a weak spot in your muscle. This happens when you overstrain. It is a femoral hernia when a portion of tissue comes out of the wall of the femoral canal, which is located below the inguinal ligament in your groin and houses the femoral artery, nerves, and veins.

What Does It Look Like?

What does a hernia look like when it pushes through the femoral canal? It will be a soft bulge, but is not always visible, especially if you have small-to-moderate-sized hernias. Large hernias in this region can cause some discomfort and are easily noticeable as a bulge close to your upper thigh in your groin area. You may experience severe pain when you lift heavy weight, stand up, or strain in any way. Due to its location, a femoral hernia can also cause hip pain.

3. Umbilical Hernia

The cord that connects a mother and her fetus during pregnancy is called the umbilical cord. There is a small opening in the stomach muscles for the umbilical cord to pass, but in some cases, the hole does not close completely after birth. When the muscles in the stomach do not join completely and allow tissues to push through this weak spot, the baby develops an umbilical hernia. It appears around the belly button and is quite common with about 20% of babies having this at the time of birth. They usually do not require any treatment and go away on their own.

What Does It Look Like?

You can see this type of hernia when your baby laugh, cry, or strain. You may even notice a bulge close to the umbilical area. It is possible for adults to develop the same and have a bulge near the navel area. This requires treatment though.

4. Incisional Hernia

You can develop this type of hernia after surgery in the belly. It sometimes appears several months or years after your surgery. It usually occurs along a vertical cut and is more common in people who are older, are overweight, have used steroid medicines, or have had a wound infection. This type of hernia can be quite painful and requires treatment.

What Does It Look Like?

What does a hernia look like when it appears after surgery? It will be quite soft to touch and may be quite soft when only the lining of the abdominal cavity protrudes through a weak spot.

5. Epigastric Hernia

It occurs between the lower part of the rib cage and the navel. The exact location is in the midline of the abdomen. These types of hernias do not contain intestine and are usually composed of fatty tissue. You usually experience no pain due to these hernias.

What Does It Look Like?

You will notice a slight bulge between the bottom of your ribcage and your navel. It becomes more prominent when you strain the abdominals while exercising or lifting heavy objects. It is barely noticeable when you are resting. You may notice skin discoloration as a result of complications of an epigastric hernia.

6. Hiatal Hernia

It is different from other hernias in the sense that it does not involve the intestine and occurs when part of your stomach protrudes through your diaphragm.

What Does It Look Like?

It appears into your chest and may cause symptoms such as belching, heartburn, feeling especially full after meals, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, and chest pain. Some people may also pass black stools or vomit blood when there is gastrointestinal bleeding.

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