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For open hernia repair surgery, a single
long incision is made in the groin. If the hernia is bulging out of the
abdominal wall (a direct hernia), the bulge is pushed back into place. If the
hernia is going down the
inguinal canal (indirect), the hernia sac is either
pushed back or tied off and removed.
The weak spot in the muscle
wall—where the hernia bulges through—traditionally has been repaired by sewing
the edges of healthy muscle tissue together (herniorrhaphy). This is
appropriate for smaller hernias that have been present since birth (indirect
hernias) and for healthy tissues, where it is possible to use stitches without
adding stress on the tissue. But the surgical approach varies depending on the
area of muscle wall to be repaired and the surgeon's preference.
Mesh patches of synthetic material are now being widely used to repair hernias (hernioplasty). This is
especially true for large hernias and for hernias that reoccur. Patches are sewn
over the weakened area in the abdominal (belly) wall after the hernia is pushed back
into place. The patch decreases the tension on the weakened belly wall,
reducing the risk that a hernia will recur.
Open surgery is different from laparoscopic surgery for hernia repair in the
Most people who have open
hernia repair surgery are able to go home the same day. Recovery time is about
most likely can return to light activity after 3 weeks. Strenuous exercise should wait until after 6 weeks of
Don't do anything that causes pain. You'll probably be able to drive again in about 2 weeks or when you have no pain in your groin. You can have sexual intercourse in about 3 weeks.
Swelling over the incision is common after hernia surgery. It doesn't mean that the surgery was unsuccessful. To reduce swelling and
pain, put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Do this every 1 to 2 hours.
Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
Surgical repair is recommended for
inguinal hernias that are causing pain or other
symptoms and for hernias that are
strangulated. Surgery is always recommended for
inguinal hernias in children. Infants and children usually have open surgery to
repair an inguinal hernia.
Open surgery for inguinal hernia
repair is safe. The recurrence rate (hernias that require two or more repairs)
is low when open hernia repair is done by experienced surgeons using mesh
patches. Synthetic patches are now widely used for hernia repair in both open
and laparoscopic surgery.
The chance of a hernia coming back after
open surgery ranges from 1 to 10 out of every 100 open surgeries done.footnote 1
Adults and children who have a hernia repair are at risk
The following people need special
preparation before surgery to reduce the risk of complications:
Most inguinal hernia repair surgery on adults of all ages
and healthy children is done on an outpatient basis. Outpatient surgery takes about 1 hour.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Harmon JW, Wolfgang CL (2007). Hernias of the groin and abdominal wall. In NH Fiebach et al., eds., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine, 7th ed., pp. 1673–1681. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKenneth Bark, MD - General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery
Current as ofJanuary 12, 2016
Current as of:
January 12, 2016
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Kenneth Bark, MD - General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery
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