What a person should expect from hernia surgery depends on the type of surgery chosen for his particular case. A patient may undergo either an open herniorrhaphy or a laparoscopic herniorrhaphy. Both operations generally take about one to two hours to complete, but the laparoscopic surgery is thought to provide for a faster recovery.
When a doctor performs an open herniorrhaphy, he makes one incision close to or over where the hernia is located. He then goes to work to repair the hernia, which sometimes involves removing the sac of protruding tissue. His next step is the sewing of the torn muscle wall. Finally, he may use a mesh made of man-made materials to strengthen the part of the muscle wall that had the hernia.
Laparoscopic herniorrhaphy accomplishes the same repair, but two to five small incisions are used to access the hernia instead of the long incision used with open hernia surgery. The surgeon uses a tiny scope that has its own light to see the hernia on a screen or monitor, placing the scope into one of the incisions. He puts the small instruments in through the other incisions in order to fix the patient's hernia.
Laparoscopic surgery is sometimes described as an operation that repairs from the inside while open hernia surgery repairs from the outside. No matter which type of surgery a patient undergoes, he should expect that there will be risks involved, as complications are always possible with surgery. For example, a person could develop an infection after surgery or internal bleeding that is difficult to stop. He could also develop potentially dangerous blood clots. It’s important to note, however, that the risks of the hernia may outweigh the risks of surgery in many cases. This is because an untreated hernia could become strangulated, causing a life-threatening health emergency.
Hernia surgery is typically done under general anesthesia, which means that the person is asleep during the procedure, or local anesthesia, which means that the patient is awake and aware but numbed in the area. However, it is often done on an outpatient basis, allowing the patient to go home after a short time, without an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical facility. Following surgery to repair a hernia, a person may be advised to consume fiber-rich foods and drink plenty of water, as some people have trouble having bowel movements after surgery. Heavy lifting should be avoided until a doctor says this activity can be resumed, usually about two to three months. Generally, a person can go back to work in about a week or two after surgery; however, it may be nearly a month before he is completely recovered.