Brigham Comprehensive Hernia Center

A hernia occurs when an internal organ or tissue pushes through a weak point or gap in the body's muscular wall. They typically appear in the groin, abdomen or upper thigh.

Hernias can vary in shape and size and can often be pushed back into their normal position. If you are an adult, a hernia will not go away on its own and, in most cases, will need to be surgically repaired.

Not all hernias cause pain or discomfort, but strenuous activities like heavy lifting can make symptoms worse. In severe cases, even normal activities like sneezing, urinating or having a bowel movement may cause pain.

illustration of hernia locations

You can see the various locations of the different hernias illustrated in the image above.

hernia cross section illustration

This illustration of a hernia cross section shows how a piece of the bowel protrudes through the stomach wall.

Why should you choose the Brigham for hernia care?

Our Experts

The board-certified general and gastrointestinal surgeons at the Brigham and Women's Hospital Comprehensive Hernia Center have expertise in diagnosing and treating all types of hernias. They are skilled in the full range of hernia surgeries, including:

  • Open hernia repair
  • Minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic hernia repair
  • Complex hernia repair

Our program also includes board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons who work closely with the entire team. They excel in complex abdominal wall reconstruction when direct closure is not possible. In addition, they are experts in wound healing and can help to optimize cosmetic outcomes.

All of our surgeons are:

  • Committed to delivering the highest level of patient care and incorporating minimally invasive techniques and other proven surgical advances into their practice
  • Active researchers exploring new ways to improve patient care before, during and after surgery
  • Training the next generation of surgeons as faculty members at Harvard Medical School and through residency and fellowship programs at the Brigham

Learn more about our surgeons.

Risk factor reduction

If you have a hernia, your initial visit to our program will likely involve an evaluation at our Multidisciplinary Hernia Clinic. There, you can see a variety of hernia experts who will work together to determine the best treatment approach based on your needs and preferences.

We will work with you to address any factors that could hurt your chances of having a successful surgery and recovery. For example, if you need to:

  • Quit smoking, our social workers can offer guidance.
  • Get your diabetes-related symptoms under control, our Diabetes Management Program can help.
  • Lose weight to reduce your risk of another hernia, our weight loss surgeons can help you achieve long-term weight loss with advanced minimally invasive bariatric surgery and support services.

Your doctors will also review with you what medications you currently take and advise you to stop using any that could cause surgery-related complications.

Multidisciplinary collaboration

The Brigham's Hernia Program specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of incisional, umbilical, epigastric, groin and recurrent hernias. Members of our team include:

  • General and gastrointestinal surgeons
  • Laparoscopic and robotic surgeons
  • Weight loss surgeons
  • Plastic and reconstructive surgeons
  • Radiologists
  • Wound management nurses
  • Dietitians
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers

All of the medical specialists in our program have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating hernias, and we work with our colleagues throughout the hospital to optimize care for each patient. Together, we will develop a personalized treatment plan to repair your hernia and return you to pain-free living as soon as possible.

High-volume experience

Many other hernia programs refer their most complicated cases to us, and we conduct thousands of simple and complex hernia operations each year. Multiple studies have shown that this type of high-volume experience results in better outcomes for patients.

What can you expect from our Hernia Program?

If you and your doctor decide that surgery is the best course of action, you will likely be scheduled for a preliminary visit to or a call with the Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation for education and tests.

Before surgery, you will receive clear instructions on when to arrive and where to go. In the operating room, surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses with expertise in hernia repair will care for you. After surgery, you will receive comprehensive care by the experienced surgical and nursing staff in our postsurgical care unit.

Depending on the complexity of your hernia and its repair, you can expect to stay in the hospital for one day to a week after your surgery. At the Brigham, we adhere to enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols. These evidence-based guidelines are designed to optimize hydration, nutrition and pain control, leading to faster, safer and more comfortable recovery from surgery.

How do you make an appointment?

Please call 617-525-9726 to schedule an appointment at one of our locations:

How can physicians refer patients to our program?

If you are a referring physician, please call 617-525-9995.

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital

For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH