After Hernia Surgery and Recovery
Recovery after hernia repair depends largely on the procedure (open vs. laparoscopic) being performed, the severity of the hernia and complexity of the hernia repair. Patients are often discharged on the day of surgery or after one night in the hospital. Hernia surgery performed in an open manner or on an emergency basis will require a longer hospital stay.
We suggest that you arrange for transportation from the hospital or surgery center to your home, since you will be taking pain medication that can impair your ability to drive. Further, if possible, someone should assist with basic household duties for a few days after surgery. At first, your diet will be limited, the details of which will be explained in your discharge packet. You will soon return to your normal diet, however. You will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment with your surgeon within two weeks in order to ensure that your recovery is progressing as expected and no infection is present at the incision site.
If at any time you feel severe pain in the abdomen or elsewhere we ask that you contact your physician immediately. You should also be on the lookout for the signs of infection. This is especially true if you are, or were, a smoker or if you have a compromised immune system. Any foul smelling or strangely colored discharge from the wound site should be evaluated as soon as possible. You will find other signs of complications for post-surgical issues in your discharge packet. As with the recovery from any surgical procedure, if you believe you’re having a medical emergency please dial 911.
During your hospital stay and in the few weeks after discharge, we will want you to recover in as much comfort as possible. You will be prescribed pain medication, which should be taken as directed and when needed. Walking after your surgical procedure will greatly assist with surgical pain. It will also assist with healing and the prevention of infection. In addition to the discomfort you may feel at the incision site, you may also feel pain in your shoulder. This is commonly felt after laparoscopic surgery and Is due to the gas used to inflate the abdominal cavity during surgery. Again, walking, within your physical limits, will help dissipate this pain more quickly. In any case, to minimize the possibility of complications, you should follow your post-surgical directions exactly.
This will include minimizing strain placed on your abdomen by not lifting anything over 5-10 pounds for the first week or two after surgery. Strenuous activity should be avoided for at least a few weeks after surgery. Most patient with desk jobs should be able to return to work shortly after their procedure. Those who have strenuous jobs may not be able to return to their former level of activity for several weeks after the procedure is complete.
Even with a successful hernia procedure, there is the possibility of recurrence. This is true for multiple reasons. First the incision itself can allow for a hernia – this is called an incisional hernia. Second, if exceptional strain is placed on the patch used to repair the hernia, the mesh may fail at some point in the future. We always suggest that patients who have undergone hernia surgery take additional precautions to ensure that no undue pressure is placed on the surgical site.