Learn more about hernia repairs at King Edward VII’s Hospital
Why would I need inguinal hernia repair surgery?
Most patients require surgery to repair their inguinal hernia if it’s causing them pain and discomfort that’s affecting their day to day life.
What symptoms does inguinal hernia repair surgery address?
An inguinal hernia occurs when a section of lower bowel or fatty tissue pushes through a weak spot in the muscle of the abdominal wall into the groin area. It causes a noticeable bulge in the groin which may disappear when you lay down. You may also be able to gently push the bulge temporarily back into place.
It can cause significant pain and discomfort and if left untreated can lead to complications including a bowel obstruction or bowel strangulation. This kind of surgery aims to treat these symptoms and help prevent complications.
When should you speak to your specialist about inguinal hernia repair surgery?
If you have persistent pain and/or a visible lump in one or both sides of your groin, or you think you may have an inguinal hernia, speak to your specialist who can assess your symptoms and if necessary, discuss surgery.
How is inguinal hernia repair surgery performed?
Inguinal hernia repair surgery can be performed as laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery or open surgery. Both are usually carried out under a general anaesthetic although sometimes open surgery is performed under a local anaesthetic where the area is numbed.
Both procedures take around 30-45 minutes and most patients are able to return home the same day as their surgery.
If you have keyhole surgery, your surgeon will make 2-4 small incisions in your abdomen which will allow them to access the area using long, thin medical instruments. Your surgeon will then pull the herniated piece of bowel back up into place and then stitch or glue a piece of medical mesh into the muscle wall to help strengthen it and prevent the hernia returning.
The procedure is the same if you have open surgery, but instead of a number of small incisions, your surgeon will make one longer incision of around 6-8 inches in order to gain access to the area.
Your surgeon will discuss your options with you and will decide which treatment option is best for you.
What is the recovery like for inguinal hernia repair surgery?
Your recovery from inguinal hernia repair surgery will depend on multiple factors, including your age, fitness level and the nature of your procedure.
After your procedure, your medical team will provide you with pain relief and advice on how long you should take off work and refrain from carrying out your normal activities. Most people are able to return to light exercise and activities within 1-2 weeks and more strenuous activities within another couple of weeks.
Are there any risks/complications associated with inguinal hernia repair surgery?
As with any medical procedure, it’s possible for risks or complications to arise. Speaking with your specialist beforehand will help you avoid any adverse reactions.
Inguinal hernia repair surgery has a relatively low risk of serious complications, but the following risks and complications can occur in a small number of cases:
- A return of your hernia
- Wound infection
- Nerve or blood vessel damage
- Pain and numbness in the groin
- Blood and other fluid collecting in the area
- Swelling and bruising in the testicles in men
How can I prepare for inguinal hernia repair surgery?
Prior to inguinal hernia repair surgery, your surgeon will discuss with you how best to prepare for surgery, as each patient is different.
Common preparations for inguinal hernia repair surgery include:
- Routine blood tests, x rays or scans as requested by your surgeon
- Taking steps to stop smoking if you smoke
- Losing weight if you’re overweight
- Remaining active and doing regular exercise
Are there alternatives for inguinal hernia repair surgery?
Usually, if your specialist has recommended surgery to repair your inguinal hernia, it’s because they think that this is the best treatment and that you risk making your condition worse if you don’t have surgery.