Open Inguinal Hernia Surgery Care Instructions
What to Expect
Surgery & Follow-up
Expect to go home after surgery, so plan for a friend/ family member to drive you home.
Repair of your inguinal hernia does not require any special diet restrictions after surgery.Some patients may find that their appetite is poor for a week or two after surgery. This is a normal result of the stress of surgery– 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 gauze on the incisions, take it off 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."
There are no medical or physical 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.
On the practical side, you are likely to be very sore for a week or two. Don't let the small incisions fool you; this is a fairly painful operation!!! It is painful because you have several titanium "screws" that are keeping your mesh in place; these screws are going through all the muscle layers in your pelvis.
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. If you want, you may return to work right away; however, as a rough guide, most people take at least 1-2 weeks off prior to returning to work. If you need particular documentation for your job, call the office.
You will usually be able to drive when you have not needed the narcotic (prescription) pain medications for two days.
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 were can sometimes fill up with post-operative fluid – this fluid is a normal result of surgery and will usually be absorbed by the body in several weeks.
Pain (male patients only)
It is expected that your scrotum may be slightly swollen or tender. Along with the use of oral pain medications you can use ice packs to help. This is expected and will go away with time.
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