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A hernia happens when a weak spot or hole in the abdominal muscle allows fat, tissue or internal organs to bulge through. A hernia can happen to anyone – some occur at birth and some are caused by previous surgery or injury. And if you've experienced a hernia, you know they can be painful and uncomfortable. But if left untreated, hernias can sometimes cause life-threatening complications including internal organs becoming twisted, blocked or infected.

"Not all hernias are the same, and there are different methods of treatment based on a person's unique health history, the size of the hernia and the risk of recurrence. That's why it's so important to be evaluated by a surgeon if you suspect a hernia or if you're experiencing pain or discomfort," says USA hernia surgeon Robert Jean, MD. "Hernias will not get better on their own, and we have no way of knowing when things could get worse very quickly. Knowing the symptoms to watch out for and making a plan for treatment can help prevent a serious medical emergency."    

While the symptoms for hernia can vary, they are soft to the touch, can be pushed back inside when laying down, and may be uncomfortable but not painful. Seek emergency medical care immediately if you have increased pain or skin discoloration around the hernia, it feels firm or hard to the touch, or you have extreme abdominal bloating or vomiting.

Expert Hernia Care

USA Hernia Center surgeons work with patients to help them understand their hernias and treatment options from the beginning – including hiatal, inguinal, ventral and femoral hernias. USA pediatric surgeons also treat hernias in babies, children and teens. Some hernias are simple to repair, others are complex because of their size, previous surgical incision or because of a person's genetic predisposition to developing hernias.

"We have 12 dedicated surgeons who are focused on the most modern standard of care when it comes to hernia repair. When patients see one of us, they can expect the highest quality and that their procedure will be customized based on their personal risk factors and health condition," says USA hernia surgeon Craig Murray, MD. "For individuals who are not yet candidates for surgery because of their body mass index, smoking or uncontrolled diabetes, we can help them take appropriate steps that lead to effective and lasting hernia repair in the future."

Do I Need Hernia Surgery?   

While it's true that some hernias don't need to be treated immediately, especially if they aren't causing pain, there is a possibility that the hernia could lead to bowel obstruction. Your hernia may or may not get worse, but it's important to have your hernia evaluated by a specialist, even if your plan is to hold off on surgery for a while.  

"Seeing a surgeon doesn't necessarily mean you're heading straight to the operating room. But it does help you know what symptoms to look out for and the best path forward – and in some cases, that's watching and waiting," says USA hernia surgeon Stephen Greer, MD. "The field of hernia repair is rapidly expanding, and our priority is to perform a durable and lasting repair and do that in the least invasive way we can."  

"As members of the Abdominal Core Health Quality Collaborative (, USA Hernia Center surgeons are continually learning and collaborating with hernia surgeons across the country. By staying on top of the latest education, surgical techniques and quality data, we can offer the procedures that lead to the very best outcomes for our patients," says USA hernia surgeon Darren Hunt, MD. "When we all subscribe to the appropriate standard of care, we reduce the likelihood of infection and recurrence while helping people get back to life or work faster and with less pain."

If you've noticed a bulge in your abdomen, groin pain or felt uncomfortable while coughing, bending or lifting objects, you may have a hernia. Call us at 423.757.0895 to schedule an evaluation. To learn more about the USA Hernia Center, visit

Help for Hernias

Many insurance companies allow for self-referrals for hernia consultation. The USA Hernia Center will work with you to determine what information is required and help obtain a referral from your primary care physician if one is needed. They will also help you select an office location and surgeon. Call 423.757.0895 to get started.

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USA Hernia Center Physician Staff

The board-certified surgeons at the USA Hernia Center perform hundreds of hernia repair procedures each year and are experts in determining which procedure is right for each person based on their unique medical history and associated risk factors. Understanding the risk of recurrence and doing everything possible to minimize that risk is one key benefit of the program.

W. Todd Cockerham, MD, FACS
Benjamin W. Dart IV, MD, FACS

w. Heath Giles, MD, FACS
Stephen H. Greer, MD

John C. Huggins, MD, FACS
Darren J. Hunt, MD, FACS
Robert J. Jean, MD, FACS

Benjamin E. Kellogg, MD, FACS
Robert A. Maxwell, MD, FACS
Vicente A. Mejia, MD, FACS
Craig A. Murray, MD, FACS
Craig S. Swafford, MD, FACS