Healthy Living

Recovering From Hernia Surgery

Recovering From Hernia Surgery

Key Takeaways

  • After having surgery on a hernia, you should completely rest for up to four days.
  • The majority of patients that have this type of procedure are able to return to work after 4 days.
  • By the fourth week post-surgery, patients can increase their activity level back to 95%-100%.

There are various types of Hernia and depending on which type you have been affected by, recovery from surgery is dependent on that, among other factors.

For hernias, the usual treatment option that most patients go through is a conventional hernia repair surgery which is known as a herniorrhaphy. While some patients go through surgery to treat the Hernia, many simply live with it under constant monitoring. There is risk in the approach of monitoring and living with Hernia and hence most patients choose to undergo surgery to treat it. Before surgery, the doctor may press your hernia back into place and advise you to wear what is called a truss, to hold the hernia in place until you are able to undergo surgery. Doctors usually perform the surgery under a local or general anesthesia. The doctor or surgeon then repositions the hernia affected tissue and removes part of the organ in cases where strangulation has occurred, that is the part of the organ has suffered from a lack of oxygen. The damaged muscle wall is then repaired with the help of a synthetic mesh or tissue.

To help patients recover faster and for patients who want a smaller recovery period, herniorraphy performed using a laparoscope is recommended and advised by doctors, for some patients. This method of treating hernia requires smaller incisions during surgery and thus requires a relatively shorter period of recovery. After the procedure, the patient typically undergoes much less post-operative pain than the normal surgery. Patients who undergo this procedure usually do not have to undergo diet restrictions during recovery and work and other activity can usually be resumed in a matter of a week or two. Complete recovery for patients undergoing this procedure takes about three or more weeks, that is if they do not do any heavy lifting, or strenuous activity, during recovery time.

It typically takes the human body 3 to 4 weeks to recover from hernia surgery. However, depending on the type of hernia and the available treatment options for that particular type, recovery time may vary. In the majority of cases, it's only a matter of a few weeks before a patient can resume his/her normal activities and go back to work. Since every person has a different physical and mental condition after surgery, some patients are unable to resume their normal activities for a longer period of time. It is important for you to pay attention to what your body demands and to the severity of your post-surgery soreness and discomfort.

As is the case for most surgeries, Hernia also produces post operative pain in most patients. These patients will typically also experience swelling and bruising in the area of surgery. Normal for patients after surgery for Hernia are the sensations of pulling, tugging, burning and other various sensations in the groin. These sensations could last anywhere between a few days to up to a year. You doctor will tell you that any of these sensations are normal after surgery and are typically only occasional. Each patient’s body responds differently to surgery and treatment and as such will recover differently and with different timelines. But one should be advised to listen to their bodies during the period of recovery, that is if your body is hurting or its sore and swollen then you should pay heed and take a day off from activity or take necessary measures to help with the swelling.

After the surgery, it is important to have complete rest for up to 4 days. During the recovery period, it is important to avoid stressful tasks. Abdominal binding in hernia patients that are resting may help reduce the need for painkillers after surgery and support the wound as it heals. When using this method of treatment, make sure that binding is comfortable and not too tight during the first few days after the surgery. If used properly, this method can also provide support to walk and is therefore very advantageous for your recovery.

If a patient feels ready to return to regular activity, they should do so after the recovery period of 4 days. However, it is very important to take precautions and be careful while doing any activity that might irritate the site of the surgery, such as lifting objects. It is advised not to lift anything heavy until the surgery wounds are fully healed, sometimes weeks after the procedure was performed.  

Walking as much as possible is important after any hernia surgery, as it will help recovery, as long as it is within normal bounds and the patient listens to their body. A patient's activity level typically increases up to 70% during the second week after the surgery as compared to the first week. By this time, patients can increase their abdominal binding to be a bit more firm and also decrease use of pain relievers. By the third week post-surgery, patients' activity level may increase up to 85%. However, they are still restricted from lifting heavy objects.

By the fourth week, a majority of people are able to increase their activity level to normal and are able to do vigorous exercises comfortably. Patients are now able to lift normal objects and play sports. Even at this stage, it is normal to experience pulling, tightness, swelling or sharp pain. However, medical attention should be sought if these feelings are persistent.

The type of mesh used in surgery is another important factor that can determine a patient's recovery period. Therefore, it is important to ask what type of mesh a doctor plans on using before undergoing surgery. There are some types that are lighter and finer that can lessen inflammation, pain, and complications after the surgery.

A side effect of medicines and treatment options during Hernia surgery recovery is constipation. It has been found that many patients who have never in their lives been subjected to pain medication, are sensitive to pain medicines. Therefore doctors recommend over the counter colace or other stool softeners to help patients with the side effect of constipations. For many patients these medicines are recommended on the night of the surgery itself and are recommended to be continued until normal bowel functions are restored. Such side effects and their treatment also play a major role in recovery from Hernia surgery.