Laparoscopic Ventral Hernia Surgery Care Instructions
What to Expect
Expect to go home after the procedure, however there is a possibility you may need to spend a few nights in the hospital after your procedure.
Repair of your ventral hernia does not require any dietary restrictions after surgery. Many patients find that their appetite is poor for a week or two after surgery. This is a normal result of the stress of surgery and manipulation inside the belly — your appetite should return in time. If you find you are persistently nauseated or unable to take in liquids, contact our office and let us know.
It is OK to shower starting around 36 hours after surgery. If you have little patches of white gauze or band-aids on the incisions, take off the gauze/band-aids before showering.
You might see little pieces of tape (called steri-strips) directly attached to your skin. It is OK to get these little tapes wet in the shower. The tapes will begin to peel up on the ends 7 – 10 days after surgery — at this point they have done their job and it is OK for you to peel them the rest of the way off if you wish. You do not have to have them on when you come for your postoperative visit.
No baths, pools or hot tubs for two weeks.
We try to close your incisions to leave the smallest possible scar. Do not put any ointment or other medication on your incisions – it will not make them “heal better.”
We ask you to wear your abdominal binder for the first 6 weeks as much as possible, including while sleeping. Most patients find this provides added comfort and reduces pain. It is also important to reduce the fluid that accumulates above the mesh after the repair.
There are no medical restrictions on activity after surgery. That means it is OK to walk, climb stairs, lift, have sexual intercourse, mow the lawn, or exercise as long as it doesn’t hurt. In fact, returning to normal activity as soon as possible will most likely enhance your recovery. However, if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. Take it easy and let pain be your guide.
You may also feel easily fatigued and “washed out” for a week or two following the surgery. These factors will put some limitations on your activity, but you will not cause any damage even if some soreness is experienced.
Everyone returns to work at different times. As a rough guide, most people take at least 4 – 6 weeks off prior to returning to work. If you need particular documentation for your job, call the office.
Usually you will be able to drive when you have not needed the narcotic (prescription) pain medications for two days. However you should arrange for someone to bring you home from the hospital.
The first bowel movement may occur anywhere from 1 – 5 days after surgery – as long as you are not nauseated or having abdominal pain this variation is acceptable. Remember that it is very common to pass a lot more gas from your rectum than you used to- this is because you will not be able to really belch. Some patients also find that they have diarrhea or “loose bowels” for the first days after their hernia repair — in the vast majority of cases, the bowel function normalizes with time. Constipation may also be common due to the pain medication. We recommend taking Milk of Magnesia (2 tablespoons; twice a day) while taking the pain pills to avoid constipation.
Some patients find that their hernia “returns” right after surgery. Don’t worry — this is a normal feeling and/or appearance. The hernia repair did not fail — the place where the hernia contents was can sometimes fill up with post-operative fluid — this fluid is a normal result of dissection and will usually be absorbed by the body in several weeks.
When to call
Call your surgeon’s office if any of the following occur:
- Fever to 100.4 or greater
- Shaking chills
- Pain that increases over time
- Redness, warmth, or pus draining from incision sites
- Persistent nausea or inability to take in liquids