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Ventral Hernia Repair

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about ventral hernia repair?

A ventral hernia repair is surgery to fix a ventral hernia. A ventral hernia may be repaired if the hernia is preventing blood flow to organs or blocking the intestines. It may be done laparoscopically or open. Laparoscopically means that your surgeon will use several small incisions to fix the hernia. In an open repair, your surgeon will make one incision to fix your hernia.

How do I prepare for a ventral hernia repair?

  • Your surgeon will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He or she 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. These tests take pictures of your hernia and help your surgeon plan your surgery. You may be given contrast liquid before the tests. Tell the surgeon 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 after surgery.

What will happen during a ventral hernia repair?

  • You will be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. To fix the hernia laparoscopically, your surgeon will make a small incision above or to the side of your hernia, and insert a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a long metal tube with a light and camera on the end. He or she will insert other instruments by making 2 to 4 smaller incisions at different places on your abdomen. In an open hernia repair, your surgeon will make one large incision over your hernia.
  • In both types of hernia repair, tools are used to remove the sac that contains your organs or abdominal tissue. Next, your surgeon will move your organs or tissue back into its 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 surgeon may close the incisions in your skin with stitches, medical glue, or strips of medical tape.

What will happen after a ventral 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. You will not be able to drive or lift anything heavy for one to two weeks.

What are the risks of a ventral 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. Problems, such as a hole in your intestines, may happen during your laparoscopic repair that may lead to a laparotomy (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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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