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Abdominal Wall Hernia Surgery: Mark McCoy

Mark McCoy, 47, is a protection services professional who has worked with Hollywood celebrities and Fortune 500 executives. His career requires him to maintain a healthy lifestyle and excellent physical shape. But in 2012, surgical complications not only sidelined his career but put his life at risk.

McCoy developed a postoperative antibiotics-resistant MRSA infection and an incisional hernia following back surgery. The infection, which kept him in the hospital for a month, prevented his surgeons from correcting the hernia.

After months, his incision healed, but the hernia grew very large. His bowel had herniated out of the abdominal wall, creating a bulge that extended from just below his breast bone to his pubic bone.

“In stores, people were looking at me as if I had a ham or turkey under my shirt,” McCoy tearfully said. “It got really depressing, so even though it was hot outside, I wore a coat to hide the hernia.”

After five months of pain and embarrassment, McCoy was eager to resolve the hernia. His doctors, however, proceeded cautiously, recognizing that the surgery would be difficult and carry a high likelihood of complication. They referred him to Ronald E. Hoxworth, M.D., Director of the Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

During the initial consultation, Dr. Hoxworth explained the procedure in great detail and was forthcoming about the possibility of complications such as bowel injury and infection, but he also knew he had the experience to correct the hernia.

“I told Mr. McCoy, ‘This is a large hernia that is not easy to fix, but the good news is I typically see and deal with these cases on a daily basis, and I can fix you with the right plan in place,’” Dr. Hoxworth said.

The plan included rebuilding muscle, performing a complete abdominal wall reconstruction, and physical rehabilitation.

After the surgery, McCoy did experience an ileus complication – a problem with bowel function – but because Dr. Hoxworth had prepared him for the possibility, he felt more relaxed. The ileus resolved in a few days.

On the third day after his operation, McCoy was able to take off the bandage, and he was astounded by the results.

“I stood in the mirror for 10 minutes because my stomach was flat again and I could see my feet,” he said. “I knew there was an incision, but I couldn’t see it. That’s how detail-oriented Dr. Hoxworth is.”

McCoy was discharged four days later.

“I’ll never forget that day,” he said. “I didn’t expect it, but both Dr. Hoxworth and I were in tears. Dr. Hoxworth gave me my freedom back. I feel good.”