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My Hernia Surgery, Operated on by Dr. Brown


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  • My Hernia Surgery, Operated on by Dr. Brown

    Hi All,

    I wanted to relate my hernia experience. I am in my early fifties, my stats are 5ft 3 in, about 114lb. My trade is in engineering broadly speaking, so I usually sit at a desk for most of the day and design and test things. My physical activities however over the last few decades include quite a bit of running and weight training. I hold a second degree black belt in the art of Taekwondo, although over the past several years was left to practice on my own after moving from place to place. Besides, I had my arm broken in a sparring match several years ago and had no choice but to stop for a while. Mending that broken arm entailed surgery, open fixation as it's called, in which a metal bar was basically attached to the bone segments by means of screws drilled into the bones. This was to hold the bones together so as to allow them to fuse back properly. It is common to leave the metal bar in as a permanent fixture but after a period of one year I had the metal bar surgically removed after it had done its job as I am philosophically opposed to the idea of having artificial implements permanently implanted within me. This is somewhat relevant to the story at hand.

    So this then is my story. In November of last year, over the course of several weeks I rushed through my work training routine in the gym. As I sat down to relax one night I felt a dull, persistent pain in the left groin area. It was also present on the right side. I didn't even suspect hernia but that was exactly what it was, as I found out a week or so later when I was forced to look around for a medical practitioner to investigate. This took me on a tour to find the right person to do the surgery. The first surgeon, in Fremont, suggested laproscopic surgery but when he learned that I was less than keen about having a permanent artificial mesh implant in my body, said there was only one other alternative he knew about: to use steel sutures instead, but the only people who had had phenomenal success with this was at a hospital in Canada. Well, that may be worth looking into, I thought, because before my visit I had read about the horrors of mesh implants, lawsuits, pain, discomfort.

    I researched this Hospital, none other than the well known Shouldice Hospital located in Thornhill, Ontario. I set up an appointment to see them for the end of December (of 2018). Just the excuse I needed to purchase that expensive ticket at that time of year to go home (for Canada is home to me). I was impressed by the professionalism and friendliness of the staff and doctors there. I set up an appointment for surgery for the last week of March of 2019 for the left side, with the right hernia to be operated on a couple of days later. On my way back to California, there was still that nagging thought though, 'Well, the steel sutures may be better than the mesh implant, but it is still an artificial substance embedded permanently. Therefore the time is short, make the best use of it, do the other research quickly. What was that other method I read about?'

    That other method was the Desarda technique. Quite impressive, I thought, better than the Shouldice method, perhaps exactly what I needed. There was one Facility in Florida where this was all the very experienced surgeon practised. However, there seemed to be complications with them processing my health insurance. I rated this procedure as preferable to the Shouldice method but I still decided to carry on with my search. Another internet search brought up the very impressive and detailed web-site of Dr. Brown, located right here in Fremont. It seemed to speak to me personally in that it addressed sports injuries and outlined the varieties of methods at which Dr. Brown was skilled including Bassini, Desarda, Shouldice, Marcy, Mc Vay, etc. With such a broad knowledge, he was able to decide with method or even combination of methods was suited to a particular patient. I lost no time in setting up an appointment to see him.

    Not only did his web-site seem tailored to someone of my sensibilities, he also spoke my language during the examination session. He was very sympathetic to the idea of using long term dissolvable sutures. He had known of the Desarda technique before it was even popularized by that name. It was easy to have his office process my very good health insurance, there was no need for further travel, hotel stays, etc. but, above all, his vast expanse of knowledge and experience was what had me sold. There was only one thing left, I thought when I left his office. Would he go out of his way to let me speak with one of his former patients, apart from the loads of testimonials already on his web-site?

    Answer: He would! I became as a result very good friends with one of the more notable contributors to this forum, none other than the great dog trainer, who goes by the name of "Dog" here. He energetically encouraged me to not delay but undergo the procedure, showering praises on Dr. Brown. He possessed similar sentiments to mine, was very careful in evaluating the choices before him when he had to make his decision back then; he was aghast at the prospect of having a permanent implant.

    My surgery took place then on March 1, four months ago basically. The first couple of days were in fact painful (I got by without any pain medications, really not an advisable route for everyone), one had to be very, very careful when getting into and out of bed, in fact it was an ordeal, but I recall within the first week walking down the road, crossing the street to pick up miscellaneous grocery items, etc. Dr. Brown called me up the afternoon of the surgery to find out how I was doing, and also on the next day. In fact, we spoke to each other quite regularly, and this extra length that he took upon himself to enquire about my well-being and to offer advice was something that I very much appreciated.

    My birthday was at the end of March, and so, as a present for myself, I undertook the activity of doing about thirty pushups and running with moderate speed for about five minutes. The results were not bad. The week before I was able to make a trip back to Canada with little or no discomfort. As the weeks went by the exercises became more serious as I strove to regain the rigour and intensity of all of my former activities. I find that I have to be careful. There is still some lingering pain in the left groin area but I would expect such vestiges for a year or so, if the previous experience with my arm is anything measure against. Nevertheless, at this time, four months post-surgery, I can perform exactly as before in terms of the number of pushups normally executed, types, weight, duration, etc. of machine exercises carried out, my high speed running is still slightly slower at times but not because of any hernia associated problems, I can carry out my regular kicks and martial arts forms without an problems. In fact, I am looking to join a martial arts studio come mid-July or even August. Well, folks, stay tuned to see how that goes!

    I hope that I would have been able to inspire anyone who may be distraught with the prospect of having to live permanently with an implant that there is a way out in much the same way as my search ended up with my finding Dr. Brown for an outcome that for an athlete like myself is as good as it can possibly get. Thank you all, I will talk again soon and I look forward to your comments in the meantime!

  • #2
    Thanks for sharing your story and all the information.
    I have a question. How were you originally diagnosed with a hernia(s)? By physical examination? Did you have a visible bulge? Or did you have to get imaging test done such as a CT scan, MRI etc?


    • #3
      Hi kls,

      Thanks for your question. The pain and discomfort that I mentioned previously was accompanied by a very prominent bulge on the left side, much more so than on the right. It didn't take long for a general practitioner to diagnose hernia after a short physical examination...


      • #4
        Were any or all of your sutures absorbable?


        • #5
          Hi MO,

          They were all absorbable; the internal ones will take roughly a year to dissolve away.


          • #6
            Thanks for sharing. Dr Brown also repaired my right inguinal hernia last May 22. No problem thus far but still extra cautious to engage in strenuous activities, including avoiding carrying heavy objects and straining when doing my morning ritual in the bathroom. Inside abdomen pain from the suture is gone and the outside scar is hardly noticeable. Your post inspired me to resume my mountain biking activity, which I abandoned because of my hernia then. I just got the scare of my life when I had colds and allergy from pollen the other day and had non-stop sneezing. I was fearful my sneezing would open up the one-month old sutured tissues. I had little pain in the operated area after this bout of sneezing. Fortunately, my sneezing stopped after taking an antihistamine tablet. Now that little pain is gone. Thank you.


            • #7
              Hey Fidel,

              Nice to know something came out of my post, great to hear you're resuming you activities. But be careful though!


              • #8
                Thank You for you kind words about me ! I spoke personally with a lot of people and willing to help if people wants to be helped .Glad that you already about doing so many is crazy ...:}}} you had double hernia is amazing result . I am glad you had the same positive experience with dr Brown. I am ahead of you ,believe me it will get even better!


                • #9
                  Thank you for all your support throughout!! For the time you took to talk to me before the surgery, and your constant follow-ups and great advice nearly every day for the first few weeks after. It was really good to know there was someone out there apart from my immediate circle who was very knowledgeable about the subject and who was thinking about me!


                  • #10
                    I am hoping that Dr. Brown can help fix my hernia without a mesh as well.
                    I have yet to meet with him, but it’s very encouraging to read other patients’ of his success stories.

                    Thank you guys for sharing!


                    • #11
                      Dear Firth of Fifth.
                      Thank you for you story and support.
                      Bill Brown MD


                      • #12
                        Can you tell me the name of the absorbable sutures used?


                        • #13
                          Dear Mo.
                          Silk Sutures.
                          Bill Brown MD


                          • #14
                            What kind of surgery did Dr. Brown perform? I assume it was non-mesh, but what technique did he use since he's capable of using several?

                            I reached out to Shouldice Hospital but could not afford it after discussing fees + travel costs.

                            My research has led me to Dr. Robert Tomas (Desarda), Dr. Towfigh (just an amazingly impressive resume), and Dr. David Grischkan (modified Shouldice.....but I'm not sure how that differs from the procedure done in Toronto).

                            I would prefer non mesh and open procedure (not laprascopic), but I'm concerned that non mesh means "tension" and I would not want the constant feel of tugging that a tension repair might produce.

                            I can stay home and have mesh repair done by very good general surgeons at two hospitals in my area vs. driving to Cleveland to see Dr. Grischkan. Flying to LA or to Ft. Meyers is not only expensive but with my enlarged prostate (and sometimes need of a mens room every 20 minutes), flying is difficult for me, and I have not traveled for that reason.

                            I know someone who had the Desarda by Dr Tomas and he was out to lunch a couple of hours later and out shopping with his daughter that afternoon.

                            Dr. Grischkan has operated on bodybuilders who were back in the gym doing powerlifting a week later.

                            Can non mesh repairs really offer a recovery in days vs. weeks?


                            • #15
                              Mesh typically tightens up the surrounding tissue and will create a tugging sensation,along with a sensation of something inside you that doesn't belong there. "Tension-free" used to have real meaning, to surgeons, but today it's a marketing term, used to sell mesh. Mesh does create tension during the healing process that's why they put in such large pieces, to account for shrinkage and movement. The tension that is being referred to, in "tension-free", really has nothing to do with a tugging sensation. No offense. It refers to sutures pulling on tissue to close the hernia.

                              Don't get caught up in the "back to action in days" meme either. It's actually an absurd and disingenuous way to sell a procedure to a patient and is really meant to sell the procedure to the insurance and healthcare providers. It means less monetary expense for them in the short-term, with fewer short-term complications. But it works well on the patients also. It sounds attractive and implies that there are no long-term consequences. Get 'em in, get 'em out, let the patient deal with it in the long run.

                              Your decision will affect the rest of your life, not just the week or two afterward. Focus on the long-term results. Good luck.


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