Hernia surgery can be done in as little as 30–45 minutes, and you’ll usually be able to head home the same day. Following hernia repair surgery, you’ll need at least a week or two before you can return to work.

Around a million hernia repair surgeries will be performed this year in the United States.

The vast majority of these surgeries are performed to repair an inguinal hernia, a bulging of the contents of the abdomen through a weak area in the lower abdomen near the groin.

If you or someone you know is planning to undergo this procedure, it may be calming to know that hernia surgery is common and can frequently be accomplished in less than an hour.

Hernia repair surgery can be performed in several different ways, so you’ll want to work with the doctors to choose the best surgery path for you. We’ve gathered some general information to help you feel more prepared about what lies ahead.

A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through the muscle that normally keeps it in place.

Hernia repair surgery may be necessary if:

  • you’re unable to pass gas or bowel movements
  • you’re feeling an increase in pain related to your hernia
  • your hernia bulge becomes red, purple, or otherwise changes color
  • you suddenly experiencing nausea, fever, or vomiting related to your hernia

To prepare for hernia surgery, you’ll want to:

  • eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • follow any food and liquid restrictions given by your surgeon or anesthesiologist
  • if you smoke, quit smoking
  • let the doctors know about any allergies or health conditions
  • notify the doctors of any medications you’re currently on and make a pain medication plan with them

The amount of time required for hernia surgery depends on the location and size of the hernia. For a basic inguinal hernia repair, it should take about 30–45 minutes.

Hernia surgery can be performed in a variety of ways. These include:

  • Laparoscopic repair: The surgeon will make several small incisions in the abdomen, so that surgical instruments can be inserted and the hernia can be repaired.
  • Robotic repair: Using a similar incision pattern to laparoscopic surgery, this type of hernia repair surgery is performed using robotic technology.
  • Open repair: A single longer skin incision is made over the hernia offering the surgeon a clear field to fix it. After addressing any issues and potentially inserting mesh to strengthen the muscle walls, the surgeon will use stitches to close up the surgical wound.

It’s important to talk with a doctor about the risks and benefits of the different styles when deciding how you’d like your hernia repair performed.

For example, there’s usually less pain after a laparoscopic hernia repair, since the incisions are smaller. But the chance of more serious risks such as damaging neighboring organs is higher.

The most common issues that arise after a hernia surgery are:

  • infection
  • continuing pain
  • recurrence of hernias
  • fistulas
  • blockage of the small or large intestines
  • scar tissue related injuries
  • seroma
  • perforation (a mark or small hole made by a pointed instrument) of neighboring tissues or organs

If mesh is used in the repair, there’s also a risk that the mesh can migrate or shrink after surgery.

After hernia repair surgery, you should consider contacting a doctor if:

  • you show symptoms of infection such as a fever or chills
  • pain isn’t being relieved with medications
  • bleeding or an increase in swelling occurs
  • there’s difficulty passing urine
  • you experience continuing coughing or shortness of breath

You’ll typically be able to return home the same day as your hernia surgery. It’s important to follow any directions given to you for home wound care by your surgical team.

In addition to taking care of your wound, after returning home you’ll need to follow the doctor’s directions on resting and avoiding strenuous activities. In general, you should plan to take at least 4–6 weeks before engaging in strenuous activities.

The doctor will usually recommend medications to help with the pain in the days after surgery.

They may also suggest using a laxative to decrease the risk of constipation, since straining to have bowel movements can make the wound hurt.

Depending on the type of work you perform, you may be able to return to work in about 1–2 weeks. While gentle exercise like short walks can help the healing process, it’s important to avoid lifting heavy items and strenuous activity for 4–6 weeks after surgery.

Hernia repair surgery is a fairly common surgery. It may be necessary if you’re experiencing pain as a result of your hernia or if your hernia is preventing important bodily functions from occurring.

Hernia surgery is frequently a fairly quick surgery, and you’ll typically be able to head home the same day. You should plan on not working for at least a week or two after hernia surgery and delaying any strenuous physical activity for 4–6 weeks.