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Inguinal Hernia Repair

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What do I 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 your hernia will be repaired through 2 to 3 small incisions.

How do I prepare for an inguinal hernia repair?

  • Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. Your provider will tell you which 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, your provider will insert a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a long metal tube with a light and camera on the end. Other instruments will be inserted into 2 to 3 smaller incisions at different places on your abdomen. In an open hernia repair, your 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 provider may check the opposite side of your lower abdomen for a hernia. Your provider will do this before your incisions are closed. The incisions may be closed 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.

What are the 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.

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