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Hernia Repair Surgery

A hernia (or “rupture”) is a weakness or defect in the wall of the abdomen. A hernia will not heal on its own. Surgery is needed to repair the defect in the abdominal wall. If not treated, a hernia can get larger. Although rare, it can also lead to serious health complications. Fortunately hernia surgery can be done quickly and safely. Below is an overview of hernia repair surgery.

Preparing for surgery

Your healthcare provider will talk with you about getting ready for surgery. Follow all the instructions you’re given and be sure to:

  • Tell your healthcare provider about any medicines, supplements, or herbs you take. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter items. Ask if you should stop taking any of them.

  • Stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and other NSAIDs 7 to 14 days before surgery.

  • Arrange for an adult family member or friend to give you a ride home after surgery.

  • Stop smoking. Smoking affects blood flow and can slow healing. Smoking can make you more likely to have complications from anesthesia and the surgery.

  • Gently wash the surgical area the night before surgery.

  • Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before surgery.

The day of surgery

Arrive at the hospital or surgical center at your scheduled time. You’ll be asked to change into a patient gown. You’ll then be given an IV to provide fluids and medicine. Shortly before surgery, an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will talk with you. He or she will explain the types of anesthesia used to prevent pain during surgery. You will have one or more of the following:

  • Monitored sedation to make you relaxed and sleepy.

  • Local anesthesia to numb the surgical site.

  • Regional anesthesia to numb specific areas of your body.

  • General anesthesia to let you sleep during surgery.

Fixing the weakness

Surgery treats a hernia by repairing the weakness in the abdominal wall. Most hernias are treated using “tension-free” repairs. This is surgery that uses special mesh materials to repair the weak area. The mesh covers the weak area like a patch. The mesh is made of strong, flexible plastic that stays in the body. Over time, nearby tissues grow into the mesh to strengthen the repair.

After surgery

When the procedure is over, you’ll be taken to the recovery area to rest. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored. You’ll also have some type of bandage over the surgical site. To help reduce discomfort, you’ll be given pain medicines. You may also be given breathing exercises to keep your lungs clear. Later you’ll be asked to get up and walk. This helps prevent blood clots in the legs. You can go home when your healthcare provider says you’re ready.

Risks and possible complications of hernia surgery

  • Bleeding

  • Infection

  • Numbness or pain in the groin or leg

  • Risk the hernia will recur

  • Damage to the testicles or testicular function

  • Anesthesia risks

  • Mesh complications

  • Inability to urinate

  • Bowel or bladder injury

Online Medical Reviewer: Jen Lehrer MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Kenny Turley PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.