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What is Biologic and Absorbable Mesh

Since hernia surgery is the most commonly performed general surgical procedure in United States, with about a million procedures performed each year, it rightly gets a lot of attention from those seeking to advance technique and technology. Surgical mesh is a tried and true option to reinforce the hernia repair. However, the types of mesh are constantly being upgraded and improved to thinner, more bio-compatible options. This has led to the reduction of many of the complications associated with earlier meshes, thus, leading to better outcomes and fewer complications.

One of the latest improvements in mesh technology has been the advent of absorbable or resorbable mesh. These are synthetic meshes that dissolve into the patient’s own tissue over time and do not leave anything behind except scar tissue.

Biologic meshes are those created by human or animal donor tissue. Much in the same way as absorbable synthetic mesh, the biologic mesh is placed to create a scaffolding for native scar tissue to form. Ultimately, the biologic mesh is absorbed into the body and the hernia defect is held closed by the body’s native tissue.

As of now, biologic and absorbable meshes have not proven to repair hernias. There is a very high recurrence rates of hernias when these meshes are employed. For now, these meshes are typically only used when the surgical field is infected.

For the time being, otherwise healthy adults without a high risk of complications are best served with a permanent synthetic mesh. However, as technology and materials improve, we look forward to seeing how they will offer new and exciting options to our patients.

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