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In a conventional hernia repair, the surgeon makes a 6–inch incision in the groin and simply pushes the protruding intestine or fat back in place. Then he or she stitches up the hole in the abdominal wall or patches it with a mesh sheet made of plastic or Gore–Tex. The patient requires only local anesthesia and usually goes home the same day, with orders to avoid heavy lifting for up to six weeks.

Hernia patients who opt for laproscopic surgery only require a few tiny incisions and get up and around faster. (it’s a minimally invasive procedure in which thin tubes equipped with tiny cameras are inserted into the body through a small incision, allowing the surgeon to see inside the patient’s body.) But they also need to be put to sleep for the procedure, which involves a slightly higher risk of damage to other organs. If you think you have a hernia, see a doctor soon. But don’t assume you’ll need surgery.