A hernia will not repair itself. It is a structural defect of the abdominal wall and most hernias should be surgically repaired. The exact type of repair depends on the type of a hernia you have. Your surgeon will discuss with your the best type of repair for your individual case. The procedure may be done under a local or general anesthesia, depending on the type and location of the repair.
To strengthen the repair and decrease pain after surgery, most surgeons use special mesh materials. The mesh is made of a thin and very strong plastic material that stays in the body. It helps the surgeon do the repair without pulling on muscles and acts as a patch that effectively closes the hole. Since the muscles are not pulled together, this type of repair facilitates faster and less painful recovery.
Risks of Surgery
Although hernia surgery is one of the most commonly performed operations in the United States, as with any surgery, it is associated with risks. These include, but are not limited to, bleeding, infection, scar formation, postoperative pain, damage to the testicles or testicular function, numbness in the groin or the thigh, mesh complications, inability to urinate, bowel or bladder injuries, hernia recurrence, and anesthesia complications. Although deaths, heart attacks, and strokes have been reported at the time or following hernia surgery, these are extremely rare.
Most uncomplicated hernias can be repaired in an outpatient setting. This means that it is possible for you to have your hernia repaired during the day and be home in the evening. You can help make your surgical recovery faster by gently easing into your daily routine as soon as possible. Start by taking short walks as soon as you can. This helps blood circulation and prevents blood clots from forming in the veins of your legs. Reduce pain and swelling by adhering to your doctor's advice regarding post-operative care and medication. Of course, some hernias may be too large or too complicated to qualify for same day surgery. Some patients may be too elderly or to ill to have ambulatory repair. Please, make sure you bring up these topics for discussion during your office visit.
Returning to Work
When you can return to work depends on the type of hernia, the type of repair, and a number of your personal characteristics. If for instance you have a desk job in an office and have an uncomplicated repair of a simple groin hernia, you may be able to return to work in a few days after your operation. If, on the other hand, your job requires constant heavy physical activity (e.g. warehouse worker), you will probably require several weeks to be able to resume your full work duties. Make sure you discuss these issues with your surgeon before scheduling the repair.