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What Should I Expect from Inguinal Hernia Recovery?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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As hernia surgery is usually an outpatient practice, inguinal hernia recovery usually lasts a short period of time. One to three weeks of recovery can be expected following an average procedure. Most patients experience some degree of pain following surgery. Complications and recovery time can also vary according to the patient's age and general health.

After inguinal hernia surgery, most patients can return home as long as they exhibit no side effects from the surgery. If dizziness, seizures, or other reactions to anesthesia occur, the patient may remain in the hospital for a longer recovery period, usually not longer than 24 hours, for observation. Patients who suffer complications from the surgery itself, such as infection, may be required to remain in the hospital as well.

Patients can expect to receive specific instructions regarding their wounds following surgery. They will be required to keep the peritoneum and other surrounding area clean. A handout listing how to do this, as well as what to avoid, such as tight clothing, is typically given to the patient prior to his or her release from the hospital. Patients should make arrangements to have someone drive them home following the procedure, as general anesthesia used during the operation hinders the ability to drive for up to 48 hours.

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During inguinal hernia recovery, most patients are restricted from heavy lifting and strenuous activity for at least three days. Painkillers may be prescribed, though patients may take over-the-counter medication if approved by their doctors. Stool softeners may also be prescribed. As with any surgery, patients are typically advised to eat a healthy diet during the inguinal hernia recovery period, including a variety of vegetables fruit, and fiber-rich foods. This can help ensure a full recovery, as well as prevent pain and constipation.

Some factors following inguinal hernia treatments could depend on the type of surgery used. Laparoscopic surgery, which is the least invasive technique, may account for less pain and recovery time. Full open surgery, on the other hand, could account for more pain and healing time, though research indicates that neither type of surgery provides more long-term advantages than the other.

In some cases, a hernia recurrence can occur during inguinal hernia recovery time. This condition, which can also take several years to redevelop, may require an additional operation. In a small number of cases, bleeding can occur during recovery. When this happens, the skin may swell and turn blue. Patients who notice discoloration, swelling, or bleeding should report back to the hospital immediately.

When the wound heals during inguinal hernia recovery, it may itch or leave a painful scar. Patients should be careful not to scratch the area until it is fully healed. A patient's physician may be able to prescribe a treatment for the itching or scarring if desired.

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