Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Surgery | MedStar Health

The abdomen is comprised of various layers of tissue, fat, and muscle that protect the organs within the abdominal cavity including the stomach, the kidneys, and the small intestine. The muscles of the abdominal wall stabilize the torso and aid in vital functions such as respiration and urination.

Sometimes, the wall can become weakened due to the formation of complex hernias and the return of a previously repaired hernia. In these cases, the tissues of the abdominal wall need to be restructured. This is a surgical procedure used to restore the structural and functional integrity of the abdominal muscles.

Why wall reconstruction is performed

It is most often performed on patients who have had unsuccessful hernia repair operations. The goal of reconstruction is to treat any open wounds in the abdominal wall, restructure the tissues, and reinforce the integrity of the muscles.

This procedure may be recommended for patients who experience the following:

What to expect during the reconstruction procedure

Abdominal wall reconstruction is performed under general anesthesia, which means that the patient will be asleep during the procedure. Depending on the complexity of the diagnosis, this procedure can take 2 to 6 hours to complete. The procedure is performed through one long incision in the lower abdomen where he/she will access the wound. The surgeon will reshape the abdominal tissues by carefully separating all the layers of the abdominal wall and sliding them into their natural position. These structures may be reinforced using surgical mesh in order to support and strengthen the abdominal muscles.


Abdominal wall reconstruction is an invasive procedure. As with any surgery, this procedure is associated with certain risks. Possible complications may include:

  • Reaction to the anesthesia
  • Blood loss
  • Infection


The dynamic nature of abdominal wall reconstruction allows surgeons to repair complex hernias and defects of the abdominal wall that are otherwise unyielding when employing traditional hernia repair techniques.

How to prepare

Pre-procedure instructions will be given to the patient before surgery. It may be necessary to stop eating and drinking at least 8 hours before the procedure. Patients who smoke will be asked to refrain from smoking for at least 2 weeks before surgery. Smoking interferes with the body’s healing process because it restricts the amount of oxygen that flows throughout the body.

Additionally, patients who are currently taking medications should ask their doctor for instructions on whether or not they should take their prescriptions as usual on the days leading up to surgery. Certain medications can affect the body’s ability to clot blood, which can lead to complications during and/or after surgery.

You’ll also need to arrange for transportation to and from the surgery and for someone to stay with you the night after the surgery. For more information, visit Patient Resources.

Post reconstruction treatment

Patients are required to stay in the hospital for approximately 5 days following abdominal wall reconstruction, depending on the overall health of the patient as well as the extent of the surgery performed.

Patients can typically return to daily activities within 2 to 5 weeks and regular exercise about 6 weeks after the procedure. It is important to adhere to all postoperative instructions as well as schedule and attend all necessary follow-up appointments.

Am I a candidate?

You may be a good candidate if:

  • You’re physically healthy
  • You’re not pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You have reoccurring hernias
  • You have infection that has developed after surgery
  • You have a wound that has developed after a hernia repair
  • You understand the risks that come along with surgery

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