What should I know about recovery from hernia surgery?
As with any surgery, most patients experience post operative pain in the area of their hernia repair. Most patients will also experience some level of swelling and bruising in the area. We discuss with patients that it is not uncommon to feel occasional pulling, tugging, burning, and other unusual sensations in the groin for up to year.
These occasional feelings are considered normal after any surgery, including hernia surgery. Each person will recover differently. The most important aspect of recovery is to listen to your individual body: if it hurts – stop, if it’s sore – ice it and take a day off.
What Can I Expect After Hernia Surgery – Recovery?Dr. Harris discusses what, on average, most patients can expect during the recovery after hernia surgery.
Listen to Our Past Patients Discuss Their RecoveryPast patients of California Hernia Specialists discuss what how they’ve felt since the surgery and whether they are back to their normal activities.
To learn much more and for the details of recovering from hernia surgery, visit on our ‘About Hernia Recovery‘ page.
When will I be ‘healed’ from my hernia surgery?
Patients often want to know how long it will take to recover from hernia surgery. From a hernia surgery point of view, the advanced hernia repairs that hernia specialists perform are so stable and secure that patients could return to weightlifting and full activities the following day and not cause their hernia to recur. The techniques and products that we use reduce the chance of hernia recurrence both in the short term and the long term to almost zero.
Once the hernia is repaired, there is almost nothing a patient can do even from day one to re-injure the hernia. However, the skin, fat, nerves and muscles around the hernia repair take some time to return to normal and completely ‘heal’. Therefore, even though the hernia is safe immediately after surgery, we ask patients to slowly return to normal activities to give the body time to heal. Plus, most patients have some pain which will require time.
Long Term Hernia RecoveryDr. Harris discusses what patients can expect in the long term after hernia surgery and when they will be fully ‘healed’.
How painful is hernia surgery?
As with any surgery, most patients experience some post operative pain in the area of their hernia repair. Most patients will also experience some level of swelling and bruising in the area. The first 2-3 days are usually the worst for most patients. Some require oral pain medications for comfort while some use ice packs and over the counter Tylenol. During this time, sitting up, lying down, walking, coughing, sneezing, and laughing will remind you of your surgery.
By day 4 most patients are able to return to their normal activities of daily living and working with only occasional reminders of the surgery when they twist suddenly, or stand/sit for extended periods of time. Each day the discomfort should improve to the point of very little pain by weeks 2-3. Patients who had a significant amount of pain with the hernia before the surgery, often have more pain after the surgery. We discuss with patients that it is not uncommon to feel occasional pulling, tugging, burning, and other unusual sensations in the groin for up to year. These occasional feelings are considered normal to any surgery, including hernia surgery.
Past Patients Discuss Their RecoveryPast patients California Hernia Specialists discuss what how they’ve felt since the surgery and whether they are back to their normal activities.
What medications will I need to control my pain after surgery?
The instruction form shown below lays out our comprehensive post-operative pain management protocol. By following these recommendations and instructions it will help control your postoperative pain as adequately as possible and help provide you with the best experience after your surgical procedure. Our goal for you is to manage your pain well enough to allow you to do the things you need to do in order to heal: walk, eat, breathe deeply and sleep.
It is normal to feel pain after your surgery. This pain is usually the worst for the first 2-3 days. Your pain can often be well controlled with a schedule of over-the-counter medications as discussed in the form below. Prescription opioid pain medications is only one part of your pain management plan.
You will be given this form at the time of scheduling your surgery, as well as in the recovery room after your surgery. Reading it BEFORE your surgery will ensure that you have the supplies necessary for after your surgery. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with it now:
When can I return to work after my surgery?
Recovery is a process that will be different for all patients, but from a surgery healing point of view, there are a few important time-lines. All patients should plan on being off from work for a long weekend, or 3-4 days. The day after the surgery we encourage patients to walk as much as tolerated including trips to the store, mall, or the beach. Most patients can return to light activities such as desk jobs in about 3-4 days.
Below, Dr. Todd S. Harris discusses what to expect in the 3-4 days after hernia surgery. He gives advice on how to minimize discomfort and about the recommendations that California Hernia Specialists provides to patients for after their surgery.
Short Term RecoveryDr. Harris discusses what to expect in the days after hernia surgery and gives advice on how to minimize discomfort.
Patients that have heavy lifting requirements at work will need to be on light duty for 3 weeks after surgery. At the end of 3 weeks, patients are cleared to resume all normal work activities as tolerated.
When can I return to sports after my surgery?
This is one of the most common questions for athletes to ask. Just as returning to work will depend somewhat on each patient’s pain after their procedure, returning to sports will be dictated by the ability to recover after the activity. From a surgery healing point of view, there are a few important time-lines to follow.
The day after the surgery we encourage patients to walk as much as tolerated including trips to the store, mall, or the beach. By day 3-4 patients who feel like they are able to participate in light cardio activities can engage in easy jogging, stretching, or some forms of yoga. By week one, athletes can slowly increase their activity as tolerated but without lifting anything greater than 20 pounds. At the 3 week point after surgery, most patients are cleared to resume all of their pre-surgery athletic activities. This could include swimming, cycling, distance running, lifting heavy weights at the gym, and other contact sports.
Athletes may find that they are sore or stiff after resuming their activities. Anti-inflammatories such as Motrin or Aleeve are helpful. Using ice in the area of the hernia after engaging in heavy sporting activities can also help with this discomfort. If the pain with athletic activities is severe, patients should take at least one day off to recover or until their pain resolves.
When can I return to sexual activities after hernia surgery?
As soon as patients can engage in sexual activities without severe pain, they can resume their normal activities. Just as with returning to work and athletic activities, there will be some recovery period before patients feel back to normal. This usually takes at least a week.
We encourage patients to download our ‘Hernia Recovery Chart’ to learn more about what to expect after hernia surgery:
We have created a quick, go to summary for patients who plan to have hernia surgery. The chart explains day by day what most patients experience after their hernia surgery. We encourage patients to download and read our recovery chart so that they can plan accordingly after their surgery.
I’ve heard about chronic pain after hernia surgery. What causes chronic pain and what is the chance this will happen to me?
Over the years hernia surgery technique as well as the materials used during hernia surgery have improved dramatically. As recently as 5 years ago, doctors were using heavy plastic meshes placed over the area of the hernia to help repair the weakened muscles. This heavy plastic mesh caused a significant reaction with the body and caused chronic pain months and years after the surgery.
Today, the meshes used by top hernia surgeons are extra lightweight and thin causing only minimal inflammatory reaction inside the body. This reduction of scarring and inflammation in the healing process has reduced the incidence of post hernia pain (post herniorrhaphy pain) to almost zero. Unfortunately some surgeons are still using those heavy thick meshes created 10 years ago.
However, we discuss with patients that it is not uncommon to feel occasional pulling, tugging, burning, and other unusual sensations in the groin for up to year. These occasional feelings are considered normal to any surgery, including hernia surgery.