Advances in medical treatments allow patients to access innovative surgical procedures to repair common health issues, such as hernias. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, surgical hernia mesh is a common treatment for this condition.

While many patients undergo a successful procedure, others experience major complications afterward. This guide explains the hazards related to surgical mesh products and what you can about them.

What is a hernia?

Weakness in muscles and other bodily tissues can allow internal organs, fat, or intestines to push through, which results in a hernia. They most often occur in the abdomen, but they can also appear in the groin, around the navel, in the upper thigh, and in many other areas. Risk factors include heavy lifting, gastrointestinal issues that cause constipation or diarrhea, frequent bouts of coughing, and overexertion.

How do surgical meshes work?

Surgical meshes are sheets of synthetic or organic materials used to fortify weaknesses in bodily tissues. Some forms of mesh get absorbed by the body, which provides time for the weakened tissues to heal. Others serve as a permanent fix for hernias.

What complications do hernia meshes cause?

There are a number of possible complications associated with hernia meshes, including:

  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Infection
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Scar tissue
  • Bleeding
  • Fluid build-up
  • Perforation of organs or other tissues

Mesh can also migrate to another location, or it may contract and become ineffective. In other cases, the hernia might recur even with the mesh in place.

Recalled surgical meshes are the most common cause of the above complications. However, it is difficult for patients to determine whether they have a recalled mesh product inside them. If you have concerns, contact your physician to investigate the issue further.