Written By : Michelle Llamas
Edited By : Sophia Clifton
Medically Reviewed By : Mark C. Howell Jr., Ph.D.
This page features 30 Cited Research Articles

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What Is Hernia Mesh Used For?

A hernia occurs when fatty tissue or an organ protrudes through a weak spot in connective tissue or muscle. Most hernias happen in the abdominal and pelvic areas. Surgeons use hernia mesh to repair weak areas in muscle walls to keep organs and tissue from sticking out.

Patient Resource
The FDA website warns that hernia mesh is not recommended for certain hernia repairs. It advises patients to discuss their particular case and other treatment options with their doctor before surgery.

Surgeons perform over a million hernia surgeries in the United States every year, and about 800,000 of these are for groin hernias, or inguinal hernias, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. By the year 2000, doctors repaired about 90% of inguinal hernias with mesh.

Hernia mesh is the gold standard of hernia repair because it’s thought to have a lower recurrence rate, but studies have shown some brands of hernia mesh may have higher failure and complication rates.

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Types of Hernia Mesh

Hernia meshes come in several types classified by the materials they are made of and how they function in the body. These include: Non-absorbable and synthetic, coated or composite, combined and biological materials.

The most common type of mesh is a non-absorbable, synthetic mesh made from a plastic called polypropylene. Some synthetic meshes are coated with a barrier such as collagen or omega-3 fatty acids that are supposed to reduce the body’s inflammatory response to the mesh.

Types of hernia mesh include:
Non-absorbable, synthetic mesh:
This type of mesh remains in the body indefinitely. It can be made from synthetic materials such as polypropylene, polyester and expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE).
Coated or composite mesh:
These types of mesh come with absorbable or non-absorbable coatings or barriers such as collagen, omega-3 fatty acids, beta glucan and cellulose. These coatings are supposed to help minimize the inflammatory response when mesh touches tissue in the body.
These types of mesh are made from two different materials, for example polypropylene and a biologic material or polyester and PTFE. By combining materials, mesh may provide benefits such as greater growth of tissue or preventing scar tissue or adhesion.
Biologic mesh:
This type of mesh is manufactured from animal or human tissue. Typically, it’s made from the disinfected intestine or skin of pigs and cows. Biologic mesh is absorbable, meaning it breaks down over time and is absorbed into the body.
Infographic of C-QUR various mesh sizes.
Source: Getinge Group

Manufacturers and Brands

Manufacturers have marketed hundreds of hernia mesh models in the United States since the first hernia mesh was used in the 1950s.

More than a dozen major hernia mesh makers market products in the United States. Each produces different sizes of its various brands.

Popular Hernia Mesh Brands and Manufacturers
ManufacturerProducts Lines and Brands
AtriumC-QUR, Vitamesh, Proloop, Prolite, Prolite Ultra
B. BraunSefil, Premilene
C.R. Bard/Bard Davol3DMax, AlloMaxBard Soft Mesh, Bard Mesh Sheets, CollaMend, Composix, Dulex, Kugel, MK Patch, OnFlex, PerFix Plug, Phasix Mesh, Phasix, Sepramesh IP Composite, Ventralex, Ventralight, Ventrio, Visilex, XenMatrix Surgical Graft
Cook MedicalSurgisis
Covidien/MedtronicParietene, Parietex, Permacol, ProGrip, Symbotex, Versatex, Prolene Light, Optilene, Permacol
Ethicon/Johnson & JohnsonFlexHD Structural, Mersilene, Physiomesh, Proceed, Proline, Ultrapure, Ultrapure Advanced, Vicryl, XCM Biologic, Vypro, Vypro II
FEG TextiltechnikDynamesh
GenzymeSepramesh IP Composite
Gore MedicalBio-A, Dual mesh, Micromesh, Gore-Tex Soft Tissue Patch, Sinecure

Recalls and Market Withdrawals

Companies voluntarily recalled or withdrew products from the market because of packaging errors, higher than normal failure rates or the risk of serious complications such as adhesions, pain and hernia recurrence.

Manufacturers of recalled mesh include Atrium Medical, Bard Davol, Ethicon/Johnson & Johnson and Covidien/Medtronic.

Atrium Medical - Recall
Products C-QUR TacShield, C-QUR Edge Mesh, C-QUR V-Patch Mesh, C-QUR Mesh (all sizes)
Date/Units July 19, 2013 (145,251 units)
Reason Packaging issues
Ethicon – Market Withdrawal
Products Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh
Date/Units May 25, 2016 (all units in circulation)
Reason Two European hernia registries reported higher than average revision surgery rates
Ethicon - Recall
Products Proceed
Date/Units Feb. 19, 2014 (223 units from specific lots)
Reason Packaging defect possibly damaged mesh, allowed potential for adhesions in patients
Covidien/Medtronic - Recall
Products Parietex Composite Parastomal Mesh
Date/Units Oct. 5, 2018 (7,333 units from specific lots)
Reason Mesh failure several years following parastomal hernia repair using the modified Sugarbaker repair technique leading to recurrence, pain and bulging

Pros and Cons of Mesh Repair

While hernia mesh is the gold standard of care for repairing hernias, no hernia mesh is without potential complications. The ideal hernia mesh resists infection, doesn’t cause an inflammatory response, maintains long-term strength, is flexible and quickly incorporates into the body’s native tissue. Unfortunately, the perfect type of mesh hasn’t been invented yet.

The experience of the surgeon performing the surgery and the surgical technique may also influence the complication rate. If you are undergoing hernia repair with mesh, speak to your doctor about the risks and benefits of different mesh types and surgical techniques.

…It is obvious that the ideal mesh has not been developed. It is well known that meshes still suffer from contraction and/or infection after implantation.
Benefits of Hernia Mesh
  • Lower rate of hernia recurrence
  • Mesh can repair larger weak areas
  • Decreased operative and recovery time
Drawbacks of Hernia Mesh
  • Mesh can migrate, shrink or cause other complications
  • Mesh may get infected, requiring removal
  • Mesh failure requires one or more revision surgery

Sometimes, the risks of hernia mesh may outweigh the benefits.

For example, one 2016 study in JAMA found patients who had incisional hernia repair with mesh had a lower rate of hernia recurrence after five years compared to patients who didn’t use mesh. But study authors said “benefits attributable to mesh were offset in part by mesh-related complications” such as “bowel obstruction, bowel perforation, bleeding and late abscess.”

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Hernia Mesh Complications

In general, most people do well with hernia mesh surgery. According to the FDA, most complications have been linked to recalled meshes.

“Rates of mesh-related complications vary by hernia type. A majority of patients report excellent long-term quality of life, although a relatively large percentage of patients experience severe or disabling symptoms at long-term follow-up,” according to authors of a 2021 study of over 6,000 patients published in the Journal of the American College of Surgery.

The most common hernia mesh complications reported to the FDA are pain, infection, recurrence, adhesion and bowel obstruction. Other possible problems include the mesh shrinking or the implant moving around inside the body. Two of the most serious complications reported to the FDA are bowel perforation and obstruction.

Patients who had had hernia mesh operations told the programme about being in constant pain, unable to sleep, and finding it difficult to walk or even pick up a sock. Some patients said that they felt suicidal.


Pain can occur in and around the hernia surgical site because of mesh erosion, inflammatory reactions to mesh, nerve entrapment or the mesh moving around or puncturing organs. If pain doesn’t go away after three to six months, it’s considered chronic pain and may last for years.


All surgeries carry a risk of infection, but hernia mesh surgery carries an extra risk because the implant itself can become infected. Hernia mesh infections happen when bacteria stick to or colonize the mesh implant. Because bacteria forms a protective biofilm around it, mesh infection is difficult to treat with antibiotics.

Recent studies have shown infection rates ranging from 0.7 to 2 % in laparoscopic ventral hernia repair and as high as 9–18 % in open inguinal and incisional hernia repair.

Bowel Perforation

When the mesh sticks to intestines or migrates, it can block the bowel. People with obstructed bowels can’t pass gas or stool. Obstructions may also stop blood flow to the intestines.

Like bowel perforation, FDA says bowel obstruction mostly occurred with recalled hernia mesh.

Hernia Mesh Failure

When hernia mesh fails, it needs to be replaced. This may occur because of the design of the mesh or a defect in the product. It can occur weeks to years after the original surgery.

Signs of hernia mesh failure include:
  • Pain
  • Bowel Obstruction
  • Bulging
  • Hernia Recurrence
  • Infection
  • Sexual Problems

Lawsuits Filed Over Complications

Thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits have accused manufacturers of producing devices that caused serious complications. The lawsuits currently target three major mesh makers in three separate multidistrict litigations, or MDLs. These are large court actions that combine similar lawsuits in a single federal court.

Active Hernia Mesh MDLs

Atrium Medical
Brands Named C-QUR
MDL Location New Hampshire District
Pending Lawsuits 2,901
Expected Trial Dates To be determined, likely late 2021 to 2022
Brands Named Physiomesh Flexible Composite Hernia Mesh
MDL Location Georgia, Northern District
Pending Lawsuits 3,596
Expected Trial Dates To be determined, likely late 2021 to 2022
Bard Davol
Brands Named All polypropylene mesh brands
MDL Location Ohio, Southern District
Pending Lawsuits 13,767
Expected Trial Dates August 2021
Source: Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation

In 2011, Bard Davol essentially ended one of the largest hernia mesh MDLs when it agreed to pay $184 million to settle 2,600 claims that involved the company’s Kugel Patch.

Meanwhile, additional cases are pending in state courts. These include Physiomesh cases in New Jersey and other people suing Covidien over its Parietex mesh.

Please seek the advice of a qualified professional before making decisions about your health or finances.
Last Modified: October 27, 2022

30 Cited Research Articles

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  15. Lockhart, K., et al. (2015). Mesh Versus Non-Mesh for Inguinal and Femoral Hernia Repair. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD011517/epdf/full
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