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What is hernia repair surgery?

A hernia, or rupture, is a weakness or defect in the wall of the abdomen. A hernia will not heal on its own; surgery is needed to repair the defect in the abdomen wall. If not treated, a hernia can get larger and can also lead to serious health complications. Hernia surgery can be done quickly and safely.


What are the risks and possible complications of hernia surgery?

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Numbness or pain in the groin or leg
  • Risk the hernia will recur
  • Damage to the testicles or testicular function
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Mesh complications
  • Inability to urinate
  • Bowel or bladder injury


How do I prepare for a hernia surgery?

Your physician will talk with you about getting ready for surgery. Follow all the instructions the physician gives you and be sure to:

  • Tell your physician about any medicines, supplements or herbs you are currently taking including prescription and over-the-counter medicines; you may be asked to stop taking them.
  • Stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and other NSAIDs 7 to 14 days before surgery.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home after the surgery.
  • Stop smoking; smoking affects blood flow and can slow healing.
  • Gently wash the surgical area the night before the surgery.
  • Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before surgery.


On the day of surgery

Arrive at the hospital at your scheduled time; you’ll be asked to change into a gown. An IV will be inserted in your hand or arm to provide fluids and medicine. Shortly before the surgery, an anesthesiologist will talk with you to explain the types of anesthesia used to prevent pain during surgery. You will have one or more of the following:

  • Monitored sedation to make you relaxed and sleepy.
  • Local anesthesia to numb the surgical site.
  • Regional anesthesia to numb specific areas of your body.
  • General anesthesia to let you sleep during surgery.


Fixing the weakness

Surgery treats a hernia by repairing the weakness in the abdominal wall; most hernias are treated using “tension-free” repairs. This is a surgery that uses special mesh materials to repair the weak area; the mesh covers the weak area like a patch and is made of strong flexible plastic that stays in the body. Over time, nearby tissues grow into the mesh to strengthen the repair.


After surgery

When the procedure is over, you’ll be taken to the recovery area to rest. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored; you’ll also have a bandage over the surgical site. To help reduce discomfort, you’ll be given pain medicines; you may also be given breathing exercises to keep your lungs clear. Later you’ll be asked to get up and walk; this helps prevent blood clots in the legs. You can go home with your physician says you’re ready.