Recovery, What to Expect

Recovery After Inguinal Hernia Surgery

You will wake up from general anesthesia in the recovery room.

Any immediate discomfort will be managed by the anesthesia and recovery room nursing teams.

While in the recovery room, you may experience immediate postoperative  nausea, pain, dizziness, and fatigue.  These will all fade quickly.  If you had general anesthesia, your throat may feel sore for up to 3 days.  This is from the breathing tube, and can be managed with lozenges or tea with honey.  If you did not have general anesthesia, you will not experience this.

While in the recovery room, the nurses will monitor your vital signs, and eventually get you up from the stretcher into a chair, and then provide you with something light to drink. Within about 2 hours after surgery, you will be able to stand and even walk slowly.

You may be discharged after being able to void and drink liquids without significant nausea or vomiting, and after being able to walk without any dizziness.  The average patient is discharged 3-6 hours after the surgery ends (some quicker, some slower).

We recommend no driving for the first 2-4 days, and certainly don’t drive while taking pain medication.

You will be given a prescription for pain medication.  It has a side effect that includes, but is not limited to, nausea and constipation.  Most patients report that they use a total of 5 tablets of this pain medication over the first 2 days after surgery, at which point they do not need any pain medication.  Some patients report only needing to use extra-strength Tylenol® for several days.

Recovery:  The typical recovery after a laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair is associated with mild to moderate incisional pain and mild groin discomfort.  This may last anywhere from 2 – 14 days, but is almost always gone by the 3rd or 4th week after surgery.  By the 3-6 month post operative visit, less than 0.1% of patients are symptomatic.  The groin discomfort during the first week may be secondary to the gas used during surgery, the hernia dissection, or rarely the mesh material or tacks (if used).  For more detail, please see “risks of laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair.”

Your 3 incisions will have a bandage on them.  Your TEP laparoscopic inguinal hernia surgery will be performed through a single ½-inch incision beneath the belly button, and two additional ¼-inch incisions below this along the lower midline.  Your TAPP surgery will also use a single ½-inch belly button incision, but the other two ¼-inch incisions will be on the sides of your abdomen.    Specific instructions for wound care will be provided upon discharge from the hospital.  In general, you may remove the outer bandage after 2 days, and the white tape or skin glue after 7-10 days.

You may resume your normal diet when you are ready.

Activity:  You will be able to stand, walk, and climb stairs with some mild discomfort starting the same evening of surgery.

You may shower the first day after surgery, but no bathing or swimming for 5 days.

Regarding exercise, we encourage you to try to walk, use a treadmill, or use a stationary bike without any resistance the first day after surgery.  Heavier exercising at the gym, running, or lifting more than 25 pounds can generally resume without restriction after 2 weeks, or when completely pain free, whichever occurs first.

The majority of patients report that they are able to return to work without restrictions after 3 – 7 days.

Follow up with your surgeon within the first 2 weeks after surgery.

While we believe the recovery from a laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair is rapid, please allow yourself up to 3 weeks to feel completely normal/back to your baseline again.

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