Recovering from Hernia Repair Surgery: What You Should Know

Surgery, no matter how routine, is always accompanied by questions and apprehension. If you need surgery for a hernia -- regardless of location -- you want to know what to expect during your recovery.

Here at Surgical Associates of North Texas, we give you complete discharge instructions when you’re released to go home. But it’s helpful to know what to expect in advance of surgery so you can prepare your home and your downtime accordingly.

Remember that recovery is different for everyone. If you feel excessive soreness or pain, slow down and rest as needed. Depending on the general type of surgery you had - open versus minimally invasive - you can expect significantly different recovery times.  Laparoscopic procedures will allow for a vastly shorter recovery period and quicker return to normal activity.

Ultimately, however, your recovery will be unique to you as everyone is different.  While most people will have a relatively quick recovery following hernia repair, a small number of people can be uncomfortable for several weeks.

Immediately following the surgery

Depending on the type (open/laparoscopic) of procedure you’ve had, your immediate postoperative pain will either be incisional or diffuse throughout your abdomen.  

For an open procedure, the incision and the area surrounding it will most likely be where you’ll have pain.  This will be most severe immediately after the procedure, and then gradually abate over the next several weeks.  Generally, by 4-6 weeks post-op you should be pretty much back to normal, only having occasional pains with certain movements.  

For a laparoscopic procedure, you’ll find that there is very little pain at the incisions as they are small and insignificant.  Most of the discomfort following this type of surgery will be caused by the distention of the abdominal wall muscles by the insufflation gas used during the procedure.  This will basically make you feel like you have one big charlie horse throughout your entire abdomen. This will be pretty uncomfortable for the first 24-48 hours, but will then quickly abate so that most people are back to most of their normal activity within 1-2 weeks following surgery.

Having sex again

Typically, you can resume your normal sex life as soon as you can participate in sexual activities without pain, which could be anywhere from several days to a few weeks, depending on your hernia location and the type of surgery you had.  While it may be uncomfortable, there is no medical reason to limit this as far as fear of harming your surgical repair. As is the case with all activities following hernia surgery, your time frame to being able to resume is heavily dependent on whether you had an open or a minimally invasive repair.  

Returning to work

As most of these procedures are done using general anesthesia, you should expect to be off of work for at least a couple of days following surgery.  The reason for this is that even if you’ve had anesthesia before, you never know exactly how your body will respond every time around. Some people can have lingering effects for 24-48 hours following administration of anesthesia, so be prepared.  

Once you’ve gotten over the effects of anesthesia, then really your return to work is dependent on what you’ll be expected to do once you’re back.  For most people with a desk or physically easy jobs, you can probably return to work in just a few days. Typically for us, a laparoscopic hernia done on a Friday will allow you to return to work on Monday.  If you have a more invasive procedure, then you will most likely need more time off. People with more physically demanding jobs will need more time, depending on how demanding your individual job is.

You may find that if you’ve had open surgery, your surgeon may place more stringent limitations on your return to work, so discuss with whoever does your actual surgery

Full return to activity

By week two post laparoscopic surgery and week five after open surgery you’ll probably have no lifting limitations. You may find that while there aren’t any specific limitations, certain activities may still cause you some discomfort for a bit longer.  As you get further and further out from surgery, you should find that these discomforts occur with less and less frequency.

If there are any concerns or if you don’t feel you’re recovering as quick as you think you should, then you should not hesitate to contact your surgeon to discuss it with them.

We’re available to answer any questions you have before or after hernia surgery. Don’t hesitate to contact our office in McKinney, Texas, or book a consultation using this website

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