St. Joseph Health System
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Hernia Surgery
Surgery treats a hernia by repairing the weakness in the abdominal wall. An incision is made so the surgeon has a direct view of the hernia. The repair is then done through this incision (open surgery). To repair the defect, muscle and connective tissue may be sewn (sutured) together to make a "traditional repair." More often, though, special mesh materials are used to make a "tension-free repair."  Follow your doctor's advice on how to get ready for the procedure. You can usually go home the same day as your surgery. In some cases, though, you may need to stay in the hospital overnight.

Getting Ready for Surgery
Your surgeon will talk with you about preparing for surgery. Follow all the instructions you're given and be sure to:

Tell your surgeon about any medications, supplements, or herbs you take. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter items.
Stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen as directed.
Arrange for an adult family member or friend to give you a ride home after surgery.
Stop smoking. Smoking affects blood flow and can slow healing.
Gently wash the surgical area the night before surgery.
Don't eat or drink after midnight, the night before your surgery.

The Day of Surgery
Arrive at the hospital or surgical center at your scheduled time. You'll be asked to change into a patient gown. You'll then be given an IV to provide fluids and medication. Shortly before surgery, an anesthesiologist will talk with you. He or she will explain the types of anesthesia used to prevent pain during surgery. You will have one or more of the following:

  • Monitored sedation to make you relaxed and sleepy.
  • Local anesthesia to numb the surgical site.
  • Regional anesthesia to numb specific areas of your body.
  • General anesthesia to let you sleep during surgery.

Risks and Complications
Hernia surgery is safe, but does have risks including:

Bleeding                Numbness or pain in the groin or leg
Infection                Risk the hernia will recur
Anesthesia risks                Damage to the testicles or testicular function
Mesh complications                Bowel or bladder injury
Inability to urinate  




During the Surgery
To make a traditional repair, an incision is made over the hernia. The muscle tissue surrounding the weak area is then sewn together to repair the defect. The incision is closed with stitches, staples, surgical tape, or special glue. This method can be used to repair any type of hernia.

After Surgery
When the procedure is over, you'll be taken to the recovery area to rest. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored. You'll also have a bandage over the surgical site. To help reduce discomfort, you'll be given pain medications. You may also be given breathing exercises to keep your lungs clear. Later, you'll be asked to get up and walk. This helps prevent blood clots in the legs. You can go home when your surgeon says you're ready.


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