Healthy Living

What Affects the Recovery Period for Hernia Surgery?

What Affects the Recovery Period for Hernia Surgery?

Key Takeaways

  • Types of hernia surgery procedures
  • Difference between laparoscopic and open surgery
  • Risk factors can extend the recovery period
  • Precautionary measures to reduce recovery time 

Once your hernia surgery is over, one thing that you would want to ask our doctor is “When can I resume my normal activities?” Hernia surgery is performed to close the opening from where the organ protrudes and reduce the pain experienced by the patient. In most non-invasive surgery options, like laparoscopic surgery, patients can resume their routine activities within 1-2 weeks. However, the reality is sometimes different from expectations.

According to a study by Mayo Clinic, while some patients with laparoscopic surgery were quickly able to resume their normal activities after the surgery, others experienced pain and fatigue several days later. It was found that people below 60 years of age, especially women, have longer recovery periods.

Although this research does put some light on realistic recovery periods, we can’t really give an exact figure because that varies from person to person. If you have seen someone in your neighbor who was ready to go to the office the next day after the surgery, you might perceive that hernia is a very minor surgery and not a big deal. While laparoscopic surgery has definitely made it simple and straightforward, your recovery time depends on your physical health and your lifestyle. Although you can get back to work within a week, the pain and fatigue can still set you back. So if you have a hernia operation, you need to wait several days before you resume your normal activities.

Risk factors associated with hernia recovery

Normally, people can go home the same day after their open surgical operation, and the recovery period is generally 3 weeks. If you are a body builder, you must wait around 6 weeks before lifting heavy weights again. However, it is advisable not to do anything for several weeks that may trigger pain and discomfort. You can have sex within 3 weeks and able to drive within 2 weeks, given you don’t experience any pain in your abdomen or groin.

The surgery may bring certain risks too. If you experience swelling or pain in the area, this doesn’t imply that the surgery was unsuccessful. However, no surgery is 100% risk free and so does hernia operation. Swelling is quite common at area that was incised. Bleeding at the site is another risk and you can have fever too. In order to reduce swelling and pain, you can use cold ice pack. Compress the area with the pack for about 10 to 20 minutes. Your doctor may also give you some pain relievers, so don’t forget to take that. There can be nerve damage too. So if nothing helps or if the pain is getting intense, contact your doctor immediately. All these factors can extend your recovery period.

Precautionary measures to reduce recovery time

If you want to reduce your recovery period, you need to bring some positive changes into your lifestyle and take certain precautionary measures. After all, you have just gone through an operation and, therefore, some after-care guidelines are a must. For example, just after the operation, you must avoid lifting heavy weights and consuming unhealthy things such as alcohol. Although there are no specific dietary restrictions, heavy meals containing trans fat and junk food must be avoided for a few weeks. And finally, smoking should be avoided.

There are two main surgical techniques to treat inguinal hernia. These two are the most common.

Laparoscopic Surgery 

Laparoscopic surgery or keyhole surgery is a new age surgical technique where the the surgery is carried out through small incisions close to the affected part. In case of hernia, small incisions are made at the abdominal wall, then a surgeon inserts a thin laparoscope with a video camera and surgical instruments. The abdominal area is inflated with carbon dioxide so that the surgeon can view the herniated intestine and pull back the protruding part.

This surgery requires lesser recovery time compared to open surgery. It takes 1 to 2 weeks for recovery for light activities, while heavy exercise can be carried out 4 weeks after the surgery.

Also it heals quickly and you wouldn’t have any post surgery marks on your body once the healing is completed.

However, laparoscopic is a more expensive procedure compared to open surgery. It also uses general anaesthesia, which can lead to several complications. 

Open Surgery

The surgery makes a large incision in the groin and the hernia bulge is pushed back. The weakened muscle area is then repaired by sewing the edges of the healthy muscle tissues together.

This technique can be performed with local anaesthesia and sedation. Recovery time is longer than that of laparoscope surgery. It takes about 3-4 weeks to carry out daily activities, while it may take up to a month to carry out heavy activities.

This is comparatively less expensive than laparoscope surgery. The surgery leaves behind its marks due to the stitches. Post operation pain lasts longer in this case.

Recovery Tips:

  • Do not hesitate to ask any questions to your doctor. It is always good to know about your condition and be aware about what is good and bad for you.
  • Move as much as you can. Spending all day on the recliner would not aid your healing. It might seem painful but it is best to keep going.
  • Do not think that once the pain reduces you can carry out all kind of activities. Pain reduction does not always mean that you have been healed. There's a chance that you may sense pain again once you perform heavy tasks again.
  • Stay away from things that make you cough or sneeze as it can be painful to do so.
  • You may experience swelling in your abdominal area so use garments which have proper elastic waistbands. Wear clothes that are loose and comfortable.
  • You may experience problem in getting a good sound sleep for a few days. Sleep on a recliner for the first days as it would be easier to get up from a recliner than on a bed.