After Hernia Surgery

Patients often ask what to expect after hernia repair surgery. Your recovery time will vary based on a few factors, such as your age, the type of hernia you had, the type of hernia repair surgery, and your overall health. Mild to moderate pain and a feeling of being a little under the weather are common side effects of hernia repair surgery. As you recuperate, it’s also typical to experience pulling or twinges in the affected area.

However, most patients feel better within a few days of their hernia repair and recover significantly from surgery within a week. In this article, we will cover some of the most frequently asked questions we hear at The Iskandar Complex Hernia Center about life after hernia surgery. We are always happy to discuss any other questions you may have when we meet with you at your appointment. Call our office today to schedule your consultation.

We can help with hernia surgery recovery because we treat the whole person.

What should I expect after my hernia surgery?

The length of your post-operative recovery depends on the kind of hernia you have and the procedure that needs to be done. Most patients who have a minimally invasive procedure, such as laparoscopy or robotic hernia surgery, are able to leave the hospital the same day and even walk the night after the procedure. Some patients may need to stay in the hospital for a few days, particularly those who had component separations or abdominal wall reconstructions. Although some individuals may need prescription pain medication, discomfort is often treated with over-the-counter analgesic pain medicine.

For the first few weeks following surgery, most patients are advised to avoid lifting anything greater than 15 pounds; however, more complex cases may be subject to different restrictions. Although all individuals will have different limitations, you should generally be as active as your doctor’s instructions allow. After your operation, get in touch with Dr. Iskandar as soon as possible if you have any questions or concerns about your recovery.

What is the fastest way to recover from hernia surgery?

Supporting the body’s natural healing process is the main focus of recovery after hernia surgery. As much as anything, staying rested and stress-free can expedite the healing process.

You can resume light gentle exercise when you’re feeling up to it. Returning to your feet helps accelerate the natural healing process since it increases blood flow. But don’t push yourself to heal faster, and make an effort to remain conscious of any pain or discomfort while you move. Those are cues from the body advising you to take it slower. Call your doctor if you have any questions about how your recovery is going.

Can you bend down after hernia surgery?

After a major abdominal wall surgery or open groin hernia repair, it is best to refrain from prolonged bending or twisting. Bending or twisting is unlikely to disrupt the repair but can cause discomfort and abdominal pain in the first couple of days after surgery. You can bend down after hernia surgery; you should just do so slowly and with care.

What is the best position to sleep after hernia surgery?

Sleep is crucial after surgery to aid in recovery, but it can be very challenging to fall asleep following a hernia operation because the pain you’re feeling in your abdomen can get worse with even the smallest motions, such as changing your position or breathing.

How then should you sleep after a hernia operation? One of the most important things you can do to improve your quality of sleep and hasten your recovery from hernia surgery is to sleep with your upper body elevated at a 30-45 degree incline.

Until the surgery site is fully healed, doctors particularly recommend sleeping on your back with your upper body elevated during the first few weeks. Sleeping in this upright position provides a number of benefits, including:

  • Avoid unnecessary strain and unintentional disruption of the surgical suture while resting at the surgery site.
  • Improved control and limb mobility are possible without affecting your sutures.
  • Reduce discomfort and accelerate recovery following surgery.
  • Addresses additional issues such sleep apnea, acid reflux, and congestion of the nose and throat.

After hernia surgery, an adjustable bed, a chair, a bed riser, a wedge cushion, or a stack of pillows are the best options for sleeping in an inclined posture. Some individuals may find the elevation to be an uncomfortable deviation from their regular sleeping position. Start with a 10 degree incline if you are uncomfortable and increase it gradually to 30 degrees over the course of 5-7 days.

Can sneezing damage hernia repair?

Your incision will hurt more than it has in a few days if you cough or sneeze hard. This is not a reason for concern. For up to six months following surgery, the majority of hernia repairs will experience some discomfort.

When you need to cough or sneeze for a few weeks after surgery, you should splint or brace your incision. This entails applying gentle pressure to the incision with your hands, a blanket that has been rolled up, or a pillow. Additionally, if you sneeze with your mouth open (also known as a cough sneeze), your incision won’t be put under as much stress.

How much should I walk after hernia surgery?

Following hernia surgery, there is no prescribed time limit or number of walks you should take. Since each circumstance is unique, there is no exact science in this. As a result, we advise going slowly and refraining from trying to accomplish too much at first. Walking is beneficial for your hernia surgery recovery, but if you overdo it and strain the area that was just fixed, serious injury may result. Overextending your body will cause more damage than good. Don’t try to walk if you don’t think you can do it comfortably. However, you can do a few sessions of walking per day for as little as 5 to 15 minutes at a time if you can walk comfortably without straining.

Walking won’t make any miracles happen but can definitely aid in your recovery. After your hernia surgery, a little bit of walking can go a long way, so limit it to a few quick 5–10 minute sessions per day for the first week or so.

Are there food restrictions after hernia surgery?

Consuming a balanced diet (nutrition) after surgery is crucial to healing and a quick recovery. However, eating the appropriate combination of nutrients is only one aspect of diet following hernia surgery. The majority of the dietary recommendations following hernia repair are very similar, though specifics will vary depending on where your hernia was located and how extensive the surgery was.

Your diet will generally be limited to liquids for 12 to 24 hours following major surgery, especially if the hernia involved the intestines. There are several causes for this liquid diet. First, anesthesia frequently causes nausea and vomiting, which solid meals might make worse. Second, after the majority of hernia repairs, it is preferable to avoid applying pressure to the stomach and intestines.

After your hernia repair you will still need to restrict your diet to some extent until you are given the all-clear for semi-solid or solid foods. It is advisable to limit your diet to extremely soft foods for the first few days after surgery so that your abdominal and intestinal muscles won’t have to work too hard or strain and to avoid any alcoholic drink. Following hernia surgery, the following foods are good choices:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Sorbet
  • Vanilla ice cream.
  • Strained purees and other creamed vegetables
  • Nutritional beverages (no chocolate)
  • Vanilla pudding

Focus on fiber-rich foods and staying hydrated once you are able to begin eating more substantial meals. After a hernia operation, you can consume any foods that are high in dietary fiber or water content, such as fruit; just steer clear of anything that will give you gas. Good options are:

  • Watermelon
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Whole grain rice
  • Whole grain bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Bran

Additionally, pay attention to including lean protein in each meal. Steak and other difficult-to-digest foods should be avoided. The best options include dairy products like cheese and eggs, fish, chicken breast, and leaner cuts of beef and pork. If cheese tends to make you constipated, stay away from it until you’re fully recovered. Being careful to not upset the gastrointestinal tract is crucial as you reintroduce solid foods.

Can I drink coffee after hernia surgery?

Yes, you can. Begin by consuming bland liquids like coffee, Gatorade, tea, water, soup and crackers, or jell-o. As tolerated, you can gradually raise your diet to a regular diet.

How do you have bowel movements after hernia surgery?

Constipation is a very frustrating problem to have, and it is made worse if you are recovering from abdiminal hernia surgery. Constipation following surgery is very common and can be caused by anesthesia, the surgery, and certain pain medications. The best piece of advise we can offer is to try to avoid constipation before it starts. In the days before your surgery, as well as afterward, make sure you are consuming meals high in fiber and drinking lots of water.

Stool softeners should be used following surgery to prevent constipation. However, if you do become constipated, you shouldn’t try to force a bowel movement. Following these tips can help prevent constipation and make having a bowel movement less painful. Dr. Iskandar will go over with you prior to your hernia repair tips to preventing constipation after surgery.

How do you know if something is wrong after hernia surgery?

The signs and symptoms of a ruptured or torn hernia mesh implant are similar to those of surgical mesh failure, which include:

  • Gas or bloating or inability to pass stools or gas
  • Fever when there is no known cause
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or chills
  • Skin that is warm or hot where the surgical incision was made.

If you have any of these symptoms you should contact Dr. Iskandar immediately. It is very unlikely, and the risk is quite low that you will have any of these possible complications occur when following Dr. Iskandar’s post-operation instructions diligently.

When can you resume sexual activity after hernia repair surgery?

When you have sexual intercourse for the first time after hernia surgery, especially an inguinal one, there may be some discomfort. Let pain be your guide in these situations. Although there is no restriction on when you can resume sexual activity following hernia surgery, it is advisable to speak with your doctor beforehand.

When can you take a shower after hernia repair surgery?

Showering is permitted between 24 and 36 hours following surgery. Before taking a shower, remove any bandages that may be covering the incisions.

You will see skin glue firmly affixed to your skin. The glue is waterproof and can get wet in the shower without harm. The skin glue will start to peel up 7 to 10 days following surgery, and at this time you are free to remove it completely if you so choose. When you arrive for your postoperative follow-up appointment, your incisions will be examined. Avoid applying creams, medicines, or other healing aids to your incisions.

How long does a hernia operation take to recover?

Recovery from open surgery for inguinal hernia repair, typically takes at least two or three weeks. In the case of a laparoscopic surgery or robotic surgery, recuperation takes one to two weeks. Recovery from surgery for a larger abdominal hernia may take uo to a month. Each person is different and recovery times can vary. Dr. Iskandar will give you recommendations for your unique situation and let you know when it is ok to resume normal activities.

The Iskandar Complex Hernia Center offers complex hernia surgery and advanced abdominal procedures with unparalleled empathy and expertise, so you can enjoy a dramatically improved quality of life. Call our office today to schedule your appointment with Dr. Isakandar to learn more information about hernia repair surgery.

Posted on October 31, 2022

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Dr. Iskandar, MD, FACS is a board-certified general surgeon with fellowship training in minimally invasive surgery and bariatric surgery. He is an accredited Surgeons of Excellence in Hernia Surgery by the SRC. The Iskandar Complex Hernia Center is one of only two North Texas Hernia Centers deemed Centers of Excellence. As a globally respected complex hernia expert, he specializes in complex hernia repair and abdominal reconstruction. He is also an Associate Professor of Surgery at Texas A&M School of Medicine.