Top 8 Most Common Hernia Mesh Complications

Hernia is the name healthcare professionals use to describe a condition in which an organ or fatty tissue breaks through the connective tissue of a nearby muscle. The medical term for connective tissue is fascia. You may or may not notice a bulge in your abdomen when you have a hernia.

Types of Hernias

The inguinal hernia is far more common than other types. Doctors consider you to have an inguinal hernia if the hernia developed on the inside of your groin. Symptoms of an inguinal hernia include pain, pressure, or weakness in the groin, bulge appearing on either side of the pelvic bone, aching or burning sensation near the bulge, and heaviness, pain, or swelling of the groin. Other common types of hernias include:

  • Hiatal hernia, located in the diaphragm or upper abdomen. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloody stools, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, liquid or food regurgitated in the mouth, shortness of breath, and vomit mixed with blood.
  • Femoral hernia, located in the groin or upper thigh. Femoral hernias often cause no symptoms. People who do have symptoms report abdominal pain, sudden groin pain, and vomiting.
  • Incisional hernia, which develops on a scar or incision in the abdomen. Symptoms include foul-smelling drainage from the belly button, fever, development of a mass, pain, swelling, and redness. Redness from an incisional hernia typically only develops with an infection.
  • Umbilical hernia, located near the belly button. Symptoms include vomiting, pain, and swelling.
  • Ventral hernia, located in the ventral or abdominal wall. The main symptom is abdominal pain, especially when straining or lifting.

Regardless of the types of hernia patients experience, doctors typically recommend surgical implantation of physiomesh or  polypropylene mesh through laparoscopic surgery. The purpose of hernia mesh products is to hold herniated organs in place while providing room for healthy new tissue to grow. Unfortunately, mesh failure is common. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first addressed the growing problem of people experiencing serious complication from the hernia mesh implant in April 2016.

Several hernia mesh manufacturers, including Bard and Johnson & Johnson Ethicon, recalled their product after numerous reports of patients experiencing serious complications, including the need for revision surgery. Below are some of the most common complications listed in adverse event reports received by the FDA and hernia mesh manufacturers.


The FDA describes a hernia adhesion as scar-like tissue that binds together. A hernia adhesion typically causes chronic pain that can develop into severe pain. If left untreated, a hernia adhesion can cause a life-threatening bowel obstruction.

Bowel Obstruction

A hernia mesh can cause bowel obstruction when the medical device attaches to the small intestine. Mesh migration to other areas of the body can also occur. If mesh migration does happen, serious complications such as entrapping the loops of the small intestine can occur.

The most common symptoms reported by patients later found to have a bowel obstruction include the inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas, nausea, and vomiting. The hernia mesh can cause portions of the small intestine to die from a blockage of blood flow. The blockage creates a life-threatening situation where surgeons must perform abdominal surgery to remove a portion of the small intestine.

Bowel Perforation

Bowel perforation can occur when the hernia mesh erodes or punctures into the bowel. It is also possible for bowel perforation to occur when the mesh breaks through the abdominal wall or another organ. Severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting are common. The situation can become life-threatening when patients develop inflammation due to bacteria and fecal matter gets into the bloodstream and causes peritonitis or sepsis.

Chronic Pain

As the most common complication of hernia mesh surgery, chronic pain can develop due to any complication and with any types of hernia. Chronic pain along the abdominal wall is common and one of the many reasons patients of failed hernia mesh surgery consider filing a hernia mesh lawsuit.

Hernia Recurrence

If a hernia grows back after hernia repair surgery, doctors refer to this as a hernia recurrence. Hernia recurrence is one of the most common hernia mesh complications. Lifestyle habits and whether mesh migration has occurred appear to be the biggest risk factors in whether patients experience hernia recurrence.


Antibiotics are typically adequate to treat infections near the surgical site. Unfortunately, chronic and deep infections surrounding the implanted hernia mesh are difficult to treat with antibiotics and often require surgery to remove the mesh placed during hernia repair surgery. It is important to note that some patients do not experience hernia mesh complications for several years after surgical mesh implantation. Flu-like symptoms, fever, and inflammation are the most common indications that an infection has developed after hernia repair surgery.

Mesh Migration

Mesh migration occurs when the device detaches and travels through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. Abscesses, bowel obstruction, bowel perforation, fistulas, and adhesions are some of the most serious complications of mesh migration. The problem of mesh migration is more common with minimally invasive surgery, also known as laparoscopic surgery. Some people experience severe pain with mesh migration right away while others remain asymptomatic until mesh migration causes more significant issues.

Rejection After Hernia Mesh Surgery

Sometimes people’s bodies reject the hernia mesh almost immediately after surgery. Mesh rejection is due to a trigger of the body’s immune system response. Common complications that could indicate hernia mesh rejection include flu-like symptoms, extensive swelling at the surgical site, redness, tenderness, and abdominal pain.

What to Do if You Have Serious Complications from a Hernia Mesh

Perhaps you suspect that you are experiencing hernia mesh complications but cannot feel certain because the symptoms overlap with other conditions. Below are some common complications of hernia mesh surgery experienced by people with all types of hernias:

  • Abdominal pain and stiffness
  • Difficulty passing gas, urinating or defecating
  • Drainage or redness around the incision site
  • Fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flu-like symptoms, including nausea and vomiting
  • Severe pain, swelling, or bruising

If you recognize one or more of these symptoms, please schedule a medical appointment for symptom evaluation. The healthcare provider will offer you treatment options such as surgery for bowel obstruction or bowel perforation, revision surgery, or medication.

Once you have started treatment for hernia mesh complications, we encourage you to learn more about filing a lawsuit against the mesh manufacturer. Depending on your state of residence, the statute of limitations to file a hernia mesh lawsuit ranges from two to six years from the date you discovered the complication.

Request a Free Consultation to Learn More About Hernia Mesh Lawsuits

You expected some side effects after hernia mesh surgery, but you never expected to live with chronic pain or need additional surgeries for hernia mesh repair or mesh removal. Additional surgeries or other treatment means more medical bills and time away from work to recover.