Hernia repair is one of our most-requested surgeries— so we decided to write an article giving you some tips on how to make sure your recovery goes smoothly.
First, a little on what hernias are and what goes into surgery:
A hernia occurs when soft tissue, like the intestine, bulges out through a weakened spot in the abdominal wall. When this happens in the groin area, it’s called an “inguinal hernia”—it’s one of the most common types of hernias.
Inguinal hernia repair can be performed either through open or laparoscopic surgery. Open surgery involves an incision for your surgeon to directly see and repair the hernia. Laparoscopic surgery involves inserting a camera and small tools into the abdomen to perform the surgery, and requires multiple small incisions rather than one large one.
Recovery from laparoscopic surgery will generally be quicker than open surgery.
But whether you’ve had open or laparoscopic hernia repair, the following 5 tips can help speed up your recovery.
Set the right expectations
It’s important to have a sense of when you’ll be able to return to normal activities. Setting the right expectations will make sure you don’t accidentally do too much, too fast.
You’ll be able to return home on the same day of surgery, and you’ll be able to return to light activity after 3 weeks. You should wait on rigorous exercise until 6 weeks after surgery. Driving may cause pain in your groin, but you should be able to drive again around 2 weeks after surgery.
Ice to reduce swelling and pain
Some swelling after surgery is normal. To reduce swelling and pain, use ice or a cold pack on the area. Don’t overdo it though – 10 to 20 minutes at a time, every 1-2 hours is enough. Be sure to use a thin cloth or towel between the ice and your skin in order to avoid skin damage.
Walk every day
A few days after surgery, when you start to gain your energy back, be sure to walk every day. Walking increases circulation, speeds up healing, and doesn’t strain the abdomen.
Avoid lifting objects at least for the first few days. Then, you can start lifting very light objects. Be sure to use your knees and not your abdominal muscles. Avoid lifting heavy objects or any strenuous activities until 4-6 weeks after surgery.
Adjust your diet
A balanced diet, high in fiber, fresh fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water is important for a few reasons. First, it gives your body the nutrients and energy it needs for quick healing. Secondly, it will help avoid constipation, which can cause pain around your wound. If you need it, ask your doctor about using a stool softener or laxative.
Beware of warning signs
Be on the lookout for signs that you have an infection or developed complications from your surgery. If you notice any of the following warning signs, be sure to contact your doctor:
- Warmth and redness around the surgical area
- Fever or chills
- Excessive sweating
- Persistent coughing or shortness of breath
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain that continues to get worse
Following these 5 tips can help speed up your recovery and allow you to get back to your normal routine as soon as possible. If you have more questions about recovery after inguinal hernia repair, be sure to reach out to your doctor.