Q1: My stomach muscle (wall) has separated and now I have an extraordinarily large oblong hernia protruding from the front of my torso just below my solarplex.  My doctors say "this will be a serious operation to perform, but if  the operation is not done, this condition is not life threatening."  The alternative is to live with it, which is what they recommend. I am not satisfied with my appearance and I would like to wear a corset for appearance, support, and to compress my body from the chest to the groin because I appear to have a 'beer belly' (I do not drink beer). I am a 6' 1" man whose weight is 235 lbs. Most of my overweight is and appears in my stomach area only. Can you offer any advise to me?  -- Gerard (6/13/02)

A1: Without knowing the exact condition, I will provide a general response to this question of corseting of a herniated abdomen. An opening in the abdominal muscle tissue can cause the abdominal content to be pushed into this opening. The force is provided by the IAP (intra
abdominal pressure).  This pressure can cause intestines to become trapped, depending on its location. A support corset can be advised depending on the severity and location of the lesion. This recommendation can only be made by an inspecting physician. Note that the corset can provide a
correcting inward force, but, if abdominal content protrudes it can cause serious problems, as it will pinch.


Q2: I have a hiatal hernia and i also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). What are the positives and the negatives of a person with these conditions corsetting?  The number one reason I want to wear a corset is because my hiatal hernia almost always hurts and I have to keep pressure on it with my hand to bear the pain. I hear corsetting will hold pressure on it and get rid of my belly too.  Wes (7/8/03)

A2: From your description, it appears you suffer from a inguinal hernia rather than a hiatal hernia. An inguinal hernia in men usually occurs in the groin area, in women in the femoral aterie area. It can be caused by a weakened abdominal musculature and subsequent overstress as can occur with repeated pregnancy. The hiatal hernia is a condition where the opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus connects to the stomach is widened, allowing the upper portion of the stomach to be pushed partially through that opening. No kind of hand pressure can comfort that condition.

In the case of inguinal hernia, a lower abdominal support like a closed bottom girdle can bring relief and provide critical and beneficial support. Traditional corseting (waist and lower chest constriction) will increase intra-abdominal pressure and typically cause expansion below the corset, worsening the condition, unless the corset apron fully covers the hernia. However, even
then, there is a risk of potentially trapping a portion of the abdominal sac or small intestine, depending on the size of the hernia. If the hernia is that large, it should be surgically treated.
For the hiatal hernia, any kind of corseting is to be avoided, as it may push the stomach further into the chest cavity, strangling the stomach in the opening in the diaphragm.

In both cases, I strongly urge you to consult your physician and determine if a treatment plan is warranted.


Q3:  I am an older man (60's) whom has worn girdles for a decade or more, purely for the feeling of support they give. Recently I needed surgery to repair an inguinal hernia. This has been completely successful, but leaves me to wonder whether the wearing of a high waisted girdle or corset would compromise the repair in any way. Is constricting the upper part of the abdomen likely to increase stress on the lower part or have any other unfortunate effect?   -- Andrew (10/13/09)

A3: The hernia is a consequence of a weakness in the abdominal wall and, even with repair, it suggests strengthening exercises. Closed bottom girdles offer excellent support, as the lower abdomen are included.

The increase in intra-abdominal pressure from corseting is not as high as one would imagine; rather, the lack of lower abdominal muscle tone is the issue. With a weakened wall, the pressure from above (against the relatively inflexible diaphragm) causes bulging below the corset and subsequent stress of the lower wall.

If corseting is desired, then the recommendation is to exercise the lower abdominal wall to increase muscle tone and combination with a lower abdominal support, such as a closed bottom girdle.



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