A doctor may recommend surgery to repair a hernia that has become painful.
The Hernia Surgery Center offers a number of hernia repair options. We will carefully evaluate your hernia before recommending a type of surgery.
Minimally-invasive hernia repair
In minimally-invasive hernia repair, a surgeon uses a laparoscope—a thin tube with a tiny video camera at its tip—small tools, and a small piece of plastic mesh to fix a hernia. Some patients recover more quickly from minimally-invasive hernia repair than they do from open hernia repair. It may cause less pain than open hernia repair.
Open hernia repair
In open hernia repair, a surgeon makes an incision in the patient's abdomen, and pushes the bulging tissue or organ back where they belong. Often the surgeon uses a small piece of plastic mesh to repair the defect in the muscle tissue. For more information, refer to the Open Inguinal Hernia Repair (Herniorrhaphy, Hernioplasty) topic on our Dartmouth-Hitchcock Healthwise® Health Encyclopedia website.
The week before surgery
- If you regularly use blood thinners or aspirin, you should talk to your family doctor (primary care physician, or PCP) and surgeon to discuss temporarily stopping these medications before surgery. Some patients will need an alternate blood thinner before the procedure. In general, do not take any aspirin or any medications containing aspirin, as it can cause excessive bleeding at the time of surgery. You may take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain.
- Do not take diet medications, the herbal supplement St. John's Wort, or Vitamin E.
- If you have a heart condition and take heart medication, please call the Hernia Surgery Center to discuss your condition.
The day of your surgery
- Do not eat anything after midnight before your surgery. If you are required to take medications, take them with only a sip of water.
- Please shower the night before, or the morning of, your surgery. This reduces the chance of infection during surgery.
- You do not need to shave your groin region before coming to the hospital for your surgery.
- You will not be alert enough to drive on your own after your surgery, so make sure a family member or friend can take you home from the hospital.
In some cases, a patient may need to stay in the hospital overnight, especially for a ventral hernia repair.
Before you are discharged from the hospital, your doctor will give you specific instructions about showering, driving, walking up stairs, having sex, lifting, and returning to work. You will also be given a date for a follow-up appointment. A family member or friend will need to drive you home from the hospital.
Your return to normal activities will depend on the severity and type of the hernia you will have repaired. In general, recovery from surgery for a ventral hernia takes longer than recovery from surgery for an inguinal hernia.
Some hernia operations are performed on an outpatient basis, which means that you will return home the same day of your surgery. In some cases, a patient may need to stay in the hospital overnight, especially for repair of a ventral hernia.
Ask your doctor how much time you should plan to take off work because of your surgery.