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What to Expect with Hernia Surgery

January 15, 2024

According to the FDA, surgeons perform more than 1 million hernia surgeries in the United States annually. Most treat inguinal hernias, the most common type. Hernia surgery, also called herniorrhaphy, is a common outpatient procedure that usually takes less than an hour. But if you are the one facing this procedure, do you know what to expect? 


Hernias don’t always hurt, but they can still be a pain. With a hernia, an organ pushes through the muscle or tissue wall that holds it, often creating a bulge on the body. Hernias can cause unpleasant symptoms, like pressure, discomfort or pain. Most hernias form in your abdomen or groin. Depending on where your hernia is located, it can impact other organs and cause complications. Not all hernias require immediate treatment, but most eventually do since they usually worsen over time. 

Surgery is the most common treatment for a hernia. Hernia surgery allows your surgeon to return the organ and herniated tissue back into place and reinforce the abdominal wall holding it there using stitches or surgical mesh. Surgical repair may be necessary if you’re experiencing pain or if your hernia is preventing important bodily functions from occurring. 

There are three main types of hernia surgery. Laparoscopic repair is a minimally invasive procedure in which the surgeon makes several small incisions in the abdomen to insert surgical instruments used to repair the hernia. Robotic repair uses a similar incision pattern with laparoscopic surgery, but it is performed using robotic technology. With an open repair, a longer incision is made over the hernia to fix it. After addressing any issues, the surgeon positions the herniated tissue back into place and repairs the weakened surrounding tissue. They will suture healthy tissue together to recreate the abdominal wall and they will often use surgical mesh, to reinforce the repair and prevent a hernia from recurring.

Most small hernia repairs are done in an outpatient setting, which involves a same-day procedure without an overnight stay. If your case is more complex, such as for a recurrent hernia, large hernias, or previous surgery, expect a little longer. Complex hernia repairs may require an overnight stay or two in the hospital.

“We can now repair hernias from the inside, using minimally invasive techniques and smaller incisions through muscle layers,” Aaron Lewis, DO of West Tennessee Medical Group Jackson Surgical Associates. “There’s less tissue trauma when you do a hernia laparoscopically, so the recovery is usually quicker.”

Recovery time depends on many factors, including your hernia type and how complex the surgery was. Depending on the type of work you perform, you may be able to return to work in a couple of weeks. In addition to taking care of your wound, follow the doctor’s directions on resting. While gentle exercise like short walks can help the healing process, it’s important to avoid lifting heavy items and strenuous activity for several weeks after surgery. Ask your healthcare provider about your timeline based on your work and overall health.

Hernia surgery is considered a safe procedure. Recurrence rates vary depending on the type of surgery and where your hernia is located. Laparoscopic and robotic surgery causes less scarring, usually involves fewer pain medicines, and has a quicker recovery than open surgery.

While hernia surgery is a relatively straightforward procedure, all surgery has risks. The most common issues that may arise are infection, continuing pain, recurrence of hernias, fistulas, blockage of the small or large intestines, and scar tissue-related injuries, of neighboring tissues or organs. If mesh is used in the repair, there’s also a risk that the mesh can migrate or shrink after surgery. Complications that can occur after recovery include erosion or fracture of the surgical mesh, infection deep inside the tissue where the surgical mesh is and hernia recurrence, which are rare. You should contact your physician if you experience any of these. 

“A hernia will never go away on its own,”Aaron Lewis, DO “Once you have one, it’s a permanent hole that is there until it’s repaired. Usually, the longer you wait, the bigger it gets and the harder it is to repair. So, it’s a good idea to talk to a surgeon sooner than later.”

If you have a hernia, West Tennessee Healthcare Jackson Surgical Associates has surgeons who can advise you on how best to treat it. To schedule an appointment, click here.