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Inguinal Hernia Repair


What you need to know about an inguinal hernia repair:

An inguinal hernia repair may be done open or laparoscopically. Open means your healthcare provider will make 1 large incision and fix your hernia. Laparoscopically means he will make 2 to 3 small incisions and fix your hernia.

How to prepare for an inguinal hernia repair:

  • Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. You may need to stop taking blood thinners or aspirin several days to weeks before your surgery. You may need blood work, a CT scan, or an ultrasound before surgery. A CT scan and ultrasound take pictures of your hernia and help your healthcare provider plan your surgery. You may be given contrast liquid before the tests. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
  • You may need a bowel prep before surgery. A bowel prep is when you take medicine to help clean out the colon. This decreases your risk of infection if a hole is made in your intestines during surgery. You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection. Arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours after surgery. This person can call 911 if there is a complication from surgery.

What will happen during an inguinal hernia repair:

  • You will be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may also be given local anesthesia to numb the surgery area Local anesthesia may help decrease your pain after surgery. To fix the hernia laparoscopically, your healthcare provider will make a small incision above or to the side of your hernia. Next, he will insert a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a long metal tube with a light and camera on the end. He will insert other instruments by making 2 to 3 smaller incisions at different places on your abdomen. In an open hernia repair, your healthcare provider will make 1 large incision near your groin.
  • In both types of hernia repair, tools are used to remove the sac that contains your organs or abdominal tissue. Next, your healthcare provider will move your organs or tissue back into the correct place. Stitches or mesh may be used to close or cover the opening in your abdominal wall. This may prevent your organs and tissues from bulging through it again. Your healthcare provider may check the opposite side of your lower abdomen for a hernia. He will do this before he closes your incisions. He may close the incisions in your skin with stitches, medical glue, or strips of medical tape.

What will happen after an inguinal hernia repair:

Healthcare providers will monitor you until you are awake. You may be able to go home when your pain is controlled, you can drink liquids, and you can urinate. You may instead need to spend a night in the hospital. It is normal for men to have swelling or bruising in their scrotum. Women may have swelling just under the incision. You will not be able to drive or lift anything heavy for 1 to 2 weeks.

Risks of an inguinal hernia repair:

Your organs, blood vessels, or nerves may get injured during the surgery. You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. A pocket of fluid may form under your skin. This may heal on its own, or you may need surgery to remove it. You may have difficulty urinating after surgery. This is usually temporary. Problems, such as a hole in your intestines, may happen during your laparoscopic repair that may lead to open surgery. Even after you have this surgery, there is a chance that you could have another hernia. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your abdomen or groin feels hard and looks bigger than usual.
  • Your bowel movements are black, bloody, or tarry-looking.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever above 101°F.
  • You develop a skin rash, hives, or itching.
  • Your incision is swollen, red, or draining pus or fluid.
  • You have nausea, or you are vomiting.
  • You cannot have a bowel movement.
  • You have trouble urinating.
  • Your pain does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • 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.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • 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.

Care for your wound as directed:

You can shower in 48 hours. Remove your bandage before you shower. It is normal to see a small amount of blood under the bandage. Carefully wash around your wound. It is okay to let soap and water run over your wound. Do not scrub your wound. Gently pay your wound dry. If you have strips of medical tape over your incision, allow them to fall off on their own. It may take 7 to 10 days for them to fall off. Do not get in a bathtub, swimming pool, or hot tub until your healthcare provider says it is okay.


  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Healthy foods may help you heal faster. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Liquids may prevent constipation and straining during a bowel movement. This will help prevent pressure on your incision, and prevent another hernia. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Apply ice on your incision for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Take deep breaths and cough 10 times each hour. This will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath. Then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour. Press a pillow lightly against your incision when you cough. This may decrease pain or discomfort.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can prevent your wound from healing. It can also increase your risk for another inguinal hernia. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.


Do not drive for at least 1 week after surgery. Do not drive if you are taking prescription pain medication. Do not drive until it is comfortable to wear a seatbelt across your abdomen. Ask your healthcare provider when it is safe for you to drive.


It is important to get out of bed and walk the day after your surgery. This will help prevent blood clots, move your bowels after surgery, and increase healing. Do not lift anything heavy until your healthcare provider says it is okay. This may put too much pressure on your incision and cause it to come apart. It may also increase your risk for another hernia. Do not play sports for 2 to 3 weeks. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work, school, and your normal activities.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

Follow up with your healthcare provider 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.

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