Post Hernia Surgery: What to Expect

It’s not uncommon to want to know what to expect after hernia surgery and how long recovery will take. Of course, the answer is always “It depends.”

It depends on:
  • The type of hernia you have.
  • The type of hernia repair chosen for your case.
  • Your age, overall health.
  • Your surgeon’s experience.

  • Let’s discuss what you need to know for setting proper post-op hernia repair expectations.
    Dr Yunis standing in operating room

    Hernia type and pain expectation:

    Umbilical, epigastric and small ventral hernias are the least painful types of hernias to recover from. If they are painful after surgery the pain rarely is significant for longer than 36 hours. Return to work can often be achieved within a few days.

    Inguinal and femoral hernias are quite variable in the severity and duration of pain after surgery. The surgeon's experience is critical in minimizing the experience of pain after surgery. Typically 3-7 days after surgery, patients have minimal discomfort and are able to return to work.

    Large ventral incisional hernias have the highest chance for significant pain after surgery. Robotic technology and extensive surgeon experience is clearly reducing the pain and recovery time after repair of these hernias.

    Important Considerations After Hernia Surgery.

    The experience after hernia surgery varies from person to person but most people feel tired and have less energy. You may also feel mild to moderate pain, though it’s normal to feel pulling sensations in the surgical area as you heal. About 5% of patients will experience severe pain and prescription pain medicine may be appropriate to use in these cases.

    The following post-operative instructions address common questions and concerns.

    Pain Medication:

    At Center for Hernia Repair, our emphasis is on making your experience as painless as possible. Most patients will not require prescription pain medication after outpatient hernia surgery.

    We recommend the following OTC medications as long as there are no allergies or contraindications:

    1. Acetaminophen 325 mg – 2 pills every 6 hours for a maximum of 7 days.
    2. Ibuprofen 200 mg – 2 pills every 6 hours for a maximum of 7 days.
    3. Colace 100mg – 1 pill every 12 hours until normal bowel habits return.

    1. Acetaminophen Extra Strength 500 mg – 2 pills every 8 hours for a maximum of 7 days.
    2. Ibuprofen 200 mg – 3 pills every 6-8 hours for a maximum of 7 days.
    3. Colace 100mg – 1 pill every 12 hours until normal bowel habits return.

    Post Hernia Surgery Care:

    This varies with different hernias and techniques.

    Typically, there is no particular care necessary for recovery from hernia surgery. The surgeon typically closes the skin with absorbable materials. The skin heals well without any special care other than routine hygiene.

    Your incision will usually be sealed with a skin sealant and no dressing is required in this case. If there is a dressing, this should be removed in 1-2 days and no further dressing is necessary unless instructed otherwise. Showering and bathing can be enjoyed 24 hours after surgery.

    Post Hernia Surgery Swelling and Bruising:

    This varies with different hernias and techniques.

    Inguinal and femoral hernia repairs are typically associated with very minor swelling and it resolves with 2 weeks. Swelling is always expected in male inguinal hernias that extend into the scrotum. The degree of swelling varies with the size of the hernia.

    Umbilical and epigastric hernias have minimal swelling that is often unnoticeable.

    Large ventral incisional hernias are often associated with swelling. Newer robotic techniques are decreasing the incidence of this swelling.

    Post Hernia Surgery Diet:

    This varies with different hernias and techniques.

    There is very little dietary restriction after hernia repair. Depending on the anesthesia and type of repair there is often loss of appetite for a short duration of time.

    In larger ventral hernia repairs, it often recommended to just drink liquids for a few days prior to returning to your previous diet.

    Minimize the amount of food at each meal for the first 48 hours. There are no specific restrictions on what you can eat.

    Driving After Hernia Surgery:

    Driving may resume 3 days after surgery as long as you are not experiencing disabling pain and you are not taking prescription pain medication.

    Post Hernia Sugery Activity

    There is no restriction to normal daily activities immediately after surgery. We encourage you to walk and walk up and down stairs as long as you are not limited by your discomfort. Lifting up to 20 pounds can be performed immediately.

    Returning to Work After Hernia Surgery:

    For those patients that work in an office setting without a lot of physical work, it is reasonable to return to work in 3 days if you are not requiring prescription pain medication.

    For those patients that work in a physically demanding setting, your return to work schedule and restrictions will be prescribed by your physician on an individual basis.
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    Recovery Time for Hernia Surgery.

    While, again, this is determined by your individual circumstances, most people feel better within a few days to a week after hernia surgery.

    Quitting smoking before and avoiding narcotics after surgery are just two tips for improving hernia surgery recovery.

    Post Hernia Surgery Complications

    The list below is a simplified description of problems after hernia surgery. All of the different types of hernias and unique operations to repair them have different types of complications. In experienced hands , the incidence of all complications is lowered significantly.

    -More severe or more prolonged pain then expected

    -Urinary retention – (<1%) Incidence is falling with newer anesthetic agents that no longer have this as a side affect.

    -Infection – (rare) Risk lowered further with newer robotic techniques.

    -Bleeding – Rarely significant enough to require reoperation.

    -Intestinal injury – (rare) Robotic surgery has lowered this risk considerably.

    -Recurrence of the hernia – Incidence varies with different hernias, techniques, and the surgeon’s experience.

    Why Choose Center for Hernia Repair

    At the Center for Hernia Repair, we specialize in a variety of hernia repair techniques and prioritize patient comfort and satisfaction.

    Dr. Yunis relies on his 30 years of experience and expertise to offer his patients customized treatment plans that suit their needs.


    What happens if you lift too much after hernia surgery?

    This is a controversial topic and surgeons vary in their answer to this. Most experts would agree that with properly performed hernia repair, lifting rarely affects the outcome of the surgery.

    How can I strengthen my stomach after hernia surgery?

    Discuss with your doctor the best exercises to begin with after you have been released for more vigorous exercise.

    How should you sleep after hernia surgery?

    One should sleep in whatever position is most comfortable for them.

    Can you sleep on your side after hernia surgery?

    If it is comfortable to sleep on your side after hernia surgery then there is no restriction in doing so.

    How long is bed rest after hernia surgery?

    While rest is generally important for the healing process, total bed rest is no longer recommended after surgery. In fact, not leaving the bed can do more harm than good.

    Is it normal to sleep a lot after hernia surgery?

    It is common to feel tired and have less energy after surgery as the body tries to recover.

    Can I drink coffee after hernia surgery?

    There are generally no dietary restrictions after surgical repair of a hernia, so you may add coffee to your diet as tolerated.

    When can I drink after hernia surgery?

    One can drink fluids after hernia surgery with no restriction. Alcohol should be avoided after surgery for several hours after anesthesia. Alcohol should be avoided while taking prescription pain medication after surgery.

    Center for Hernia Repair

    1435 South Osprey Avenue
    Suite 201
    Sarasota, Florida 34239
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