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Incisional Hernia


An incisional hernia is a bulge through the healed incision of a previous surgery in your abdomen. An incisional hernia is usually caused by weakness in the tissues and muscles of your abdomen. The bulge is usually caused by a part of your intestine, but it may also be tissue or fat pushing through the weakness.

Incisional Hernia


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have sudden trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain.
  • You have bloody bowel movements.
  • You stop having bowel movements or passing gas.
  • Your abdomen is suddenly very hard.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea and are vomiting.
  • You are constipated.
  • Your hernia has returned.
  • You have a lump, or collection of fluid, under your skin.
  • You have pain that does not go away, even after you take pain medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your how to take this medicine safely.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Prevent another incisional hernia:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight. Ask your healthcare provider what types of food you should eat.
  • Do not strain when you have a bowel movement. Take an over-the-counter bowel movement softener and drink plenty of water. When you cough, hold a pillow against your incision to prevent strain.
  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
  • Wear your support device as directed. You may need to wear a support device, such as an abdominal binder for up to 2 weeks after surgery. This helps decrease pain and the risk of fluid collecting under your skin.
  • Return to your usual activities as directed. Do not lift more than 10 pounds or do strenuous activity for up to 6 weeks.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Incisional Hernia (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.