Hernia Surgery: FAQs

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What is a Hernia?

A hernia happens when tissue bulges through a weak area or hole in the abdominal wall. Hernias can develop in the navel (belly button), the abdomen, the groin or scars from a previous abdominal surgery.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary. Some people have no symptoms, others experience discomfort or pain in the abdomen, or visible bulges where the hernia pushes against the weak area of the abdominal wall. Hernias happen at any age. They are more common in men.

How are hernias diagnosed?

To diagnose a hernia, your doctor may ask about symptoms, examine you or order X-rays. If your doctor finds a hernia, and you are experiencing symptoms, you may benefit from surgery. How soon you schedule your surgery may depend on how much pain you are experiencing and the size of your hernia.

How do I prepare

Discuss with your doctor anesthesia options, pain management before and after surgery, and current medications. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure. Plan to have an adult driver take you home after the surgery, as you will receive medicine that makes it unsafe to drive.

What are the risks of surgery?

Risks include bleeding, infection, the hernia coming back, and chronic pain.

What can I expect during surgery?

The type, size and location of your hernia will determine the extent of your surgery. You may receive:

  • MAC (monitored anesthesia care) to numb the area and sedate you
  • General anesthetic to put you asleep
  • Regional anesthetic to block feeling in your abdominal area while awake
  • Local anesthetic to numb an area of your abdomen while awake
  • A piece of synthetic mesh to help repair the weak area or hole in the abdominal wall

What can I expect after surgery?

  • Pain and discomfort will occur mainly during the first week.
  • Take prescription pain medicine as directed, and over-the-counter pain medicine as needed.
  • You may feel drowsy, dizzy or weak the day of surgery and the day after surgery.
  • You may have a low-grade fever (lower than 101 F).
  • You may return to work within one to two weeks, depending on the type of work you do.
  • Avoid heavy lifting for four to six weeks.
  •  It can take up to four weeks to fully recover.