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Learn More About Hernias & Repair Alternatives

Our hernia discussion guide provides a helpful framework for discussing risk factors and common questions for those learning more about hernias and hernia repair alternatives.

What is a Ventral Hernia?

A ventral hernia is a bulge of tissue through an abnormal opening or defect in the abdominal wall. They are referred to as incisional hernias, if the defect is related to the incision line of a previous surgery. They may also be referred to as abdominal wall hernias.


Risk Factors

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Straining during bowel movements or urination
  • Certain medications such as steroids
  • Previous abdominal surgery
  • Straining when lifting heavy objects
  • A weakened immune system due to cancer, transplant surgery, and other conditions
  • Past Pregnancy

Types of Reinforcement Meshes

Biologically Derived


  • Designed to become part of the patient’s body
  • Made from animal tissue
Permanent Material

Permanent Synthetic

  • Stays in the patient’s body
  • Usually made from plastic
Resorbable Synthetic

Resorbable Synthetic

  • Partially or fully breaks down over time
  • Usually made from plastic
Hernia Mesh Overview

In general hernia meshes have been studied for many decades across many thousands of patients and both types of meshes have been found safe. Both synthetic and biologically-derived meshes have also been shown to reduce the rate of hernia recurrence. Surgeons typically decide whether to use a mesh, and which type to use, based on the needs of the specific patient.


Meshes made from animal or human tissue reinforce the abdominal wall while allowing for continued tissue growth in the patient’s body. These devices will fully resorb or dissolve over time, leaving no foreign material. Biologically-derived meshes can be made from human cadaver tissue or animal tissue. The most common animals used to make meshes are Bovine (cattle) or Porcine (swine).

Permanent Synthetic

Meshes made from synthetic materials are also used to reinforce hernia repairs. Synthetic Materials have been used in hernia repair since the 1900s. The first meshes were made from steel or silver. Since the 1950’s however, synthetic meshes have been made from a wide variety of plastics. These plastics include polypropylene, polyethylene, polyester and expanded – polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). These materials are not biodegradable, remain in the body, and theoretically provide long term support, although some do eventually lose strength over time.

Resorbable Synthetic

Resorbable synthetics are made of a variety of materials like plastic. In addition, some meshes, known as bioresorbable synthetics, also contain biologically-derived materials as well. These types of meshes will fully or partially break down in the body over time. These materials are relatively new to the field of hernia surgery.

About Gentrix Surgical Matrix Devices

Gentrix Surgical Matrix devices are a biologically-derived reinforcement material that can be used in ventral hernia repair. Like other biologically-derived materials, it provides a scaffold that allows the body’s cells to naturally interact with the body and integrate over time into the site of repair. Over time, Gentrix Surgical Matrix is generally fully resorbed and will be replaced with the patient’s own tissue. No foreign material will be permanently left in the body.

  • Made using specific layers of the porcine bladder wall
  • Processed and sterilized to remove all porcine cells
  • Designed to become part of the patient’s body


What are the Potential Side Effects or Complications?
Complications and reactions are possible with any soft tissue repair, including but not limited to: infection, increased chronic inflammation, allergic reaction, unexplained fever or chills, excessive redness, acute and chronic pain, swelling, tender scars, adhesions, seroma formation, fistula formation, hematoma, recurrence of hernia or tissue defect, delayed or failed incorporation of graft, and mesh or suture erosion or extrusion. Other unknown side effects and complications can also occur. Talk to your surgeon for more information.

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