Don’t ignore hernia symptoms

Robotic surgery halted the hernia

slightly smiling man leaning on a boardwalk at the beach

Soon after helping a friend move some heavy furniture, Donald Lowell noticed a strange bulge slightly above his belly button. The bulge was painless, so he didn’t think much of it – until it started to grow.

“It started out really small, but over the next few months, it kept getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “It wasn’t painful, but I knew something was wrong.”

Lowell had a consultation with Brian Dalton, MD, a general surgeon with North Florida Surgeons affiliated with Baptist Medical Center Beaches, who diagnosed him with an anterior abdominal wall hernia.

This type of hernia is a tear or area of weakness in the abdominal wall that may allow the interior abdominal lining or sections of the intestine to poke through. An abdominal wall hernia causes visible bulging but little or no discomfort.

Surgery is often recommended for these types of hernias to reduce the risk of strangulation, which occurs when the hernia blocks off the blood supply, usually to the intestines.

Surgery is often recommended for these types of hernias, especially if the hernia becomes painful of lifestyle limiting, to reduce the risk of strangulation, which occurs when the hernia blocks off the blood supply, usually to the intestines.

Some of the most common causes of abdominal wall hernias include heavy lifting, chronic coughing and straining during bowel movements. The diagnosis is typically made by physical examination. Abdominal hernias are very common, particularly among men.

“My first visit to Dr. Dalton was amazing. He was very competent and told me exactly what procedure they were going to do,” Lowell said. “They got me scheduled for surgery pretty quickly. It was a very smooth process.”

Lowell underwent minimally invasive surgery to repair his hernia. A few tiny incisions were made in his abdomen, and the surgeon used a robotic surgery system, which has small instruments and cameras to precisely repair the affected area.

The minimally invasive approach offers many advantages, including decreased postoperative pain, fewer complications, reduced risk of infection and less scarring. Most patients go home the same day.

Lowell’s hernia turned out to be very large, requiring an overnight stay in the hospital.

“The nurses and the staff at the hospital were great,” Lowell said. “I can’t say one negative thing about my experience.”

Ten days after surgery, Lowell was back at work.

“I work in a restaurant and I had to be careful about how much weight I picked up,” he said. “But other than that I was able to do my job and my normal activities.”

Now Lowell’s surgery is a distant memory, other than the few small scars that are quickly fading.

“I’m feeling great, and I’m very excited to show off my new belly button,” joked Lowell.

For more information about hernia prevention and solutions, go to or call 904.202.2019.