The below question is answered by Richard M. Kline Jr., M.D., of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction.

Is it routine to suffer with abdominal hernias after reconstruction surgery? Is it possible to correct this so there will be no more hernias or surgeries?

Sorry to hear about your problem.

It’s certainly NOT routine, at least not with experienced surgeons doing muscle sparing reconstruction (such as the DIEP flap). Unfortunately, however, it can occasionally happen under the best of circumstances, and we always warn patients about this risk, although I haven’t had a patient with a hernia in several years. Depending on the particular circumstances, it should almost always be possible to fix it, although in the worst cases it could require the implantation of permanent plastic mesh. A worst-case scenario would be a patient who is significantly overweight, with a large volume of intra-abdominal fat, which would push heavily against the muscular abdominal wall from the inside. However, even this situation should be correctable. If your plastic surgeon isn’t comfortable fixing it, then a general surgeon may be (although general surgeons typically refer the WORST hernias to plastic surgeons).

Good luck, and please feel free to ask more questions if you need more information.

—Dr. Richard M. Kline, Jr.