Updated November 12, 2020
If you have suffered from a hernia, it is very possible that one of many different types of hernia mesh was used to repair your injury. Hernias can be very painful, limiting your movement and your ability to live. Hernia mesh is meant to help cure your injury, but all too often it instead causes more damage to your body because of defective medical products.
Many manufacturers of hernia mesh know that their products are defective, and many continue to market them to the public despite this knowledge. Many of these devices cause serious complications in patients that can lead to further injury, hardship, and financial cost.
In some cases, removal of your hernia mesh may be necessary because of the complications it causes. Removal may be the best option for you, but it is not without its risks. If the hernia mesh had to be removed, it is likely that the mesh was either defective or it was caused by your surgeon’s medical malpractice. Hernia mesh revision surgery may also be an option. Often the options for removal depend on the placement of the hernia mesh, whether onlay, inlay or overlay.
In either case, the personal injury attorneys at the Shouse Law Group want our clients to be well-informed about options, including a hernia mesh lawsuit. We answer some of your most common questions about mesh removal.
- 1. What is a hernia mesh?
- 2. What kinds of complications might require removal of my hernia mesh?
- 3. What can require my hernia mesh to be removed?
- 4. How is hernia mesh removed?
- 5. What are the benefits of having the defective hernia mesh removed?
- 6. What are the risks and complications of hernia mesh removal surgery?
- 6.1 Is there a risk of further pain?
- 6.2 Can I get nerve damage from my surgery?
- 6.3 Is there a risk of developing a pain medication addiction?
- 6.4 Can I develop incontinence?
- 6.5 Can mesh removal cause sexual dysfunction?
- 6.6 Is there a possibility of organ damage during my surgery?
- 6.7 Can my hernia come back?
- 7. What is the recovery time for hernia mesh removal?
- 8. What are the financial issues I might face?
- 9. How can I be compensated?
- 10. When should I contact a personal injury attorney?
1. What is hernia mesh?
Hernia mesh is a screen-like medical mesh which provides support to damaged and weakened tissue caused by a hernia. A hernia is a bulging of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening.
Hernia mesh is intended to prevent the recurrence of your hernia. Defective hernia mesh leads to thousands of patients suffering complications every year. There are many types and classifications of hernia mesh which a surgeon may use, each with its own benefits and complications.
1.1 What types of hernias are treated with hernia mesh?
While nearly all kinds of hernias may be appropriately treated with this device, some common injuries you may have been treated for include:
- Inguinal Hernia
- Umbilical Hernia
- Epigastric Hernia
- Incisional Hernia
- Femoral Hernia
- Hiatal Hernia
- Ventral Hernia
If you have been treated for or diagnosed with one of the listed conditions, click on your injury in the list above to learn more about your possible symptoms, treatment, and known complications caused by improper treatment.
1.2 What brands of hernia mesh are known to be defective?
Sadly for patients seeking treatment, the list of defective hernia mesh models continues to grow. Many brands and models are currently in litigation which seeks financial compensation for victims of these defective products.
- Bard – Bard, Inc. has several models of hernia mesh that are known to be defective and have been subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalls.
- Atrium – Atrium is a large producer of these devices. Its C-QUR model has been subject to personal injury lawsuits and FDA recalls.
- Covidien – Covidien manufactures numerous hernia mesh products, and its Parietex hernia mesh device has been the subject of numerous cases.
- Ethicon – Ethicon is a division of Johnson & Johnson. Its Physiomesh brand has been known to cause serious complications in patients.
- Gore Medical – Gore Medical is the maker of the patented Gore-Tex material, Gore-Tex is an often dangerous product which has harmed many hernia injury patients.
- Genzyme – Genzyme Biological is a smaller company that many of the other in this list, but their Sepramesh models have been known to cause further complications in surgical patients.
2. What kinds of complications might require removal of my hernia mesh?
Before a doctor ever decides that your hernia mesh needs to be removed, you will likely have suffered from one of the more common complications that arise from defective medical products or your doctor’s negligence.
2.1 What is Adhesion?
Adhesion occurs when scar tissue forms around the mesh implant and joins the implant with other internal tissue or organs. This can occur within a few weeks of your surgery or can take months or years. It typically occurs once the absorbable coating of your hernia mesh has worn off. 1
2.2 What is a bowel obstruction?
Bowel obstruction refers to blockage — either partial or whole — of part of the small or large intestines. When blocked, food or liquid cannot properly pass through the digestive system. This condition can become serious or even life-threatening if it is not properly treated.
2.3 What is an infection?
Bacterial infection can occur after your surgery due to defective hernia mesh or a doctor’s malpractice during your surgery. Infections may cause:
- Pus at the site of infection.
Infections can slow your healing process and can even be life-threatening.
2.4 What is migration?
Migration occurs when your mesh moves from the location it is supposed to be into somewhere else. This can result in re-occurrence of your hernia and other complications.
2.5 What is perforation?
Defective hernia mesh can cause perforation of your body’s organs and tissues. Perforation means that the mesh pierces through parts of your body, causing:
- Extreme Pain.
When defective mesh perforates your body in some way, removal is often necessary.
2.6 What are seromas?
A seroma is a collection of fluid, called serum, that builds up under the surface of the skin. They can develop where surgical incisions were made in the body or where bodily tissue was removed. These commonly occur after a significant surgical procedure such as a hernia repair and can be the result of defective hernia mesh. 2
2.7 What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is commonly defined as the presence of pain, hypersensitivity, or discomfort which was not present before surgery and has existed for at least 3 months following the surgery. While the pain must last past 3 months to be considered chronic, generally speaking, it can last long-term.
3. What can require my hernia mesh to be removed?
Any time your mesh fails, becomes torn or ripped, or results in serious complications that cannot be fixed with medication, removal of your hernia mesh might be required. Removal has both benefits and risks to the patient, and removal is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Removal may be required if any of the common symptoms, such as those listed above, are present and ongoing. In many cases, unless the defective mesh is removed, your symptoms will continue without relief.
3.1 Who is eligible for hernia mesh removal surgery?
Whether you undergo mesh removal surgery is ultimately between your surgeon and yourself after a full discussion of the benefits and risks. However, patients may be eligible if they suffer from:
- Long-lasting pain that is severe and cannot be treated with medication.
- Severe or life-threatening infection which cannot be treated with antibiotics.
- A patient who has suffered a recurrence of his or her hernia.
- A patient whose hernia mesh has eroded or adhered to his or her organs.
- Organ perforation which causes pain, infection, or other serious complications.
3.2 How common is hernia mesh removal surgery?
Surgery to remove your defective hernia mesh is a serious decision that can have lasting consequences. Because of this, doctors are often hesitant to take this step unless absolutely necessary. Physicians will usually attempt other methods of treatment first before considering removal.
4. How is a hernia mesh removed?
Hernia mesh removal requires additional surgery. This surgery is invasive, meaning the surgeon must go into your body to remove the defective product. Incisions, or cuts, must be made into your skin and tissue surrounding the patch in order to remove it.
A surgeon must remove the mesh by cutting and removing whatever device connects the mesh, such as sutures or tacks. In many circumstances, it is the suture or tacks which are causing your extreme pain and other complications.
4.1 Is there recovery from hernia mesh removal surgery?
As with any surgery, you will need time to recover from your surgery. Healing takes time, and it takes rest. This time and rest often mean missing even more work and other activities you would otherwise undertake.
Without the hernia mesh’s failure, either because it was defective or improperly applied by your doctor, you would not need hernia repair surgery.
4.2 What else can occur during the removal surgery?
During your surgery to remove the hernia mesh, your doctor may also have to repair whatever damage was caused by the defective product. This could include:
- Remedying infection
- Sealing puncture wounds
- Repairing damaged nerves or blood vessels.
Any time a surgeon is required to “open you up” to remedy issues caused by your hernia mesh, there are benefits and risks to the procedure.
5. What are the benefits of having the defective hernia mesh removed?
While there are of course risks to your surgery, there are also benefits to your health and your life. These benefits are often what patients are desperate for after living with their complications for a long period of time.
5.1 Will the surgery stop my pain?
Mesh removal surgery has been shown to significantly reduce pain in patients who have suffered from chronic pain. The medical device is usually the source of your pain, so its removal is often the cure of your problems.
5.2 Will mesh removal cure my infection?
Once a surgeon takes out all of your hernia mesh, the cause of infection is often removed. Many products, such as Gore Medical’s Gore-Tex DualMesh, have large pores (holes in the mesh material) which allow the bacteria to grow more rapidly as compared to other products. 3
In many cases, the surgery also removes the sutures, tacks, or other device used to attach the mesh to your body’s tissue. It is often the case that these attachments not only cause your pain but are the breeding ground for dangerous infection.
5.3 Can removing the mesh prevent future recurrence of my hernia?
For some, the main reason for their surgery is because the defective product failed to prevent their hernia from returning. If this is the case, a skilled removal surgeon can not only remove your failed hernia mesh but also repair your hernia.
This can be done with more mesh, although many doctors do not advice replacing mesh once it has failed. It can also be done with newer medical techniques which do not use hernia mesh to support the tissue surrounding your injury in an effort to prevent future complications.
6. What are the risks and complications of hernia mesh removal surgery?
While hernia mesh removal may be necessary, failure to remove the mesh properly can result in serious complications. In many cases, the complications are caused by the damage the defective mesh did in the first place.
6.1 Is there a risk of further pain?
As with any surgery, there is always the risk of more pain as a result. That pain may be temporary, or it can last a great deal of time. Long-term pain is one of the leading complaints in those who have had to undergo a subsequent surgery to remove their defective hernia mesh.
If your surgery failed to relieve the pain you felt before, or is the cause of new pain, it may be the result of the damage done by the hernia mesh.
6.2 Can I get nerve damage from my surgery?
One of the main reasons patients undergo mesh removal surgery is the extreme pain they are suffering. Many times this pain is caused by stimulation of or damage to your nerves from the hernia mesh.
During surgery, a risk you face is further damage to your nerves, which will likely cause severe pain in the future. When hernia mesh has adhered to nerves, the nerve is often cut as a necessity or by mistake. This can lead to long-lasting pain or even loss of sensation in that area of your body.
6.3 Is there a risk of developing a pain medication addiction?
After a major surgery, doctors often prescribe pain medication to their patients. This includes the prescription of opioid painkillers, such as:
- Oxycontin (oxycodone)
- Vicodin (hydrocodone)
Addiction to opioid painkillers is at an all-time high because of over-prescribing doctors and the addictive nature of the drugs themselves. You may risk addiction to painkillers after surgery. 4
6.4 Can I develop incontinence?
One common and unexpected complication of hernia mesh removal surgery is the inability to control a person’s bowels. As is often the case, hernias occur near the intestinal tract and other parts of the digestive and excretory system.
This includes the anus and urethra, which means you may be unable to control yourself when you need to use the bathroom.
6.5 Can mesh removal surgery cause sexual dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction can be rather broadly defined but includes:
- Inability to achieve or maintain an erection
- Delayed, premature, or non-present ejaculation
- Lack of sexual desire
- Pain during intercourse
- Lack of arousal
- Issues with pregnancy
This can be caused by the hernia mesh’s close proximity to your sexual organs. For example, hernia mesh may be placed near a man’s testicles, and the mesh can adhere to the cords which supply sperm to the body. 5
6.6 Is there a possibility of organ damage during my surgery?
One of the more common side effects of defective hernia mesh is the perforation of the organs and tissues in your body. As a result, these perforations often must be repaired during your hernia mesh removal procedure.
There is a risk that your organs can be further damaged during the attempted removal. When mesh adheres itself to the lining of, for example, the intestines, removal may damage your body’s tissue. Removal of the mesh often requires cutting into your organs’ tissues.
6.7 Can my hernia come back?
The risk of hernia recurrence is high with mesh removal surgery. The mesh was intended to fix your hernia, and without it, the hernia may return. This means that to fix the issue of say, infection, you now face the symptoms of your original hernia all over again.
7. What is the recovery time for hernia mesh removal?
Even though the surgery itself may take only an hour, the recovery time may take weeks or months. It depends on the extent of the damage and type of surgery. For instance, open surgeries usually require more recovery time than laparoscopic surgeries.
The surgeon should be able to tell you how best to minimize the recovery time. For instance, some patients may need to remain on bed rest and avoid certain exercises.
8. What are the financial issues I may face?
While there are many health risks you might face as the result of defective hernia mesh and its removal, you will also face financial harm. Surgery is expensive. Medical bills will feel like they are piling up and you may not know what to do.
8.1 What kinds of medical bills will surgery create?
Not only will the surgery itself be the cause of very high medical bills, your recovery will also cost you. Recovery takes time and usually requires future trips to your doctor to:
- Make sure you are healing properly
- Have stitches removed
- Get refills on any medications
- Deal with post-surgery symptoms.
8.2 Will I have to miss work because of my hernia mesh removal surgery?
Mesh removal surgery typically requires that you miss work so that your body can recover from such an intense surgery. As a result, you are likely going to miss work. Depending on your situation, this could range from a few days, a few weeks, or even months.
Time that you miss from work can have a serious impact on your finances, and thus your life.
9. How can I be compensated?
It is not your fault that the hernia mesh did not work, and if the mesh was defective or your doctor committed medical malpractice you may be entitled to money damages. If you file a personal injury lawsuit against a manufacturer or doctor, you may be awarded financial compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future medical bills
- Loss of income or wages
- Future loss of income or reduction in earning potential
- Punitive damages (in certain circumstances).
Compensation for the injuries you have suffered can enable you to go live your life again without the high debts of your medical bills. A personal injury attorney can walk you through the complicated legal process to get the financial compensation to which you are entitled.
10. When should I contact a personal injury attorney?
If you suffer from complications after undergoing surgery for hernia mesh removal, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. You should not suffer from the defective products of manufacturers or from a doctor’s negligence.
If you or someone you know has been harmed by a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider’s negligence or by a defective medical product, contact our personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation. Call us or fill out our online contact form on this page.
- Emedicinehealth. Adhesions (General and After Surgery).
- Healthline. Seroma: Causes, Treatment, and More
- NCBI. An in vitro study assessing the effect of mesh morphology and suture fixation on bacterial adhesion.
- FDA. Opioid Medications
- SAGES. Risks of Laparoscopic versus Robotic-Assisted Mesh Removal after Inguinal Hernia Repair.