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The Most Common Causes of Ventral Hernias

The Most Common Causes of Ventral Hernias

A hernia is a common medical condition affecting men, women, and children. It happens when organs and tissue inside your abdomen push through the muscle wall and create a visible (and sometimes painful) lump in your skin.

Hernias can develop in your abdomen or groin. Ventral hernia is the medical term for a hernia in your abdomen, and it’s among the most common types.

Anyone can get a ventral hernia, and you should understand your risk factors so you can take steps to protect your health.

Elvira Klause, MD, FACS, is a board-certified surgeon who specializes in hernia care in San Clemente, California. Dr. Klause and our team work with patients who have ventral hernias to minimize their symptoms and prevent complications.

Understanding your risk for ventral hernia

There are a few different types of ventral hernias, but the most common are incisional hernias, umbilical hernias, and epigastric hernias.

Some of the most common causes of ventral hernias are:

Congenital defect or family history of hernia

A congenital defect is an abnormality that’s present from birth. Some infants are born with hernias, but others have congenital defects that make their abdominal wall unusually thin. A congenital defect like this may increase your risk of ventral hernia.

A family history of hernia can also increase your risk. For some, genetics contribute to thinner abdominal walls and increased incidence of hernia. The thinner your abdominal wall, the more likely it is that you will develop a ventral hernia during your lifetime.

Previous abdominal surgery

Abdominal surgery (or a history of abdominal injury) causes trauma to your abdominal muscle wall and increases your risk of hernia. In fact, about 30% of people who have abdominal surgery develop incisional hernias.

Following surgery, the layers of your abdominal wall are thinner than they used to be. Scar tissue may weaken the area. Even after the incision has healed, you may develop an incisional hernia as internal organs press against the weak spot.


For women, pregnancy is a common cause of umbilical hernia, a type of ventral hernia that appears around the belly button.

Pregnancy puts significant pressure on your abdominal organs and muscles as the baby grows. The muscles may thin and weaken, causing a ventral hernia to form or make a preexisting hernia more apparent.  


Being overweight or obese puts increased strain on your body, and that includes your abdominal wall. Extra weight can push your internal organs through weak spots in your muscles and create a hernia, especially if you carry that excess weight around your middle.

Certain habits

In addition to your overall health, the activities you do on a regular basis could increase your risk of ventral hernia. Occupations or hobbies that require a lot of heavy lifting or pushing can lead to injury and hernia, particularly if you use improper lifting techniques.

What to do when you have a ventral hernia

The most obvious symptom of a ventral hernia is a visible lump in your abdomen. Typically, this lump is soft and can be pushed around gently. 

Some people don’t experience discomfort with ventral hernias. But sometimes the hernia may be painful. The pain may get worse if you sit or stand for a long time, strain when using the toilet, or attempt to lift heavy objects.

If you think you might have a hernia, schedule an appointment. Dr. Klause and our team specialize in hernia care, and we can help you identify the hernia and develop a treatment plan.

Not all hernias require surgery right away, but hernias don’t heal on their own. So if your hernia is painful or growing larger, Dr. Klause may recommend minimally invasive surgery to treat it.

Schedule your first appointment to find out if ventral hernia surgery is right for you. Call our office at 949-393-2595 or book online now.

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