It can take four to six weeks to recover from hernia mesh surgery. The patient’s health affects recovery. Complications can prolong a patient’s recovery time. Healing can take a full year.
Pain may vary from one patient to the next. Patients can usually manage pain with over-the-counter medicines.
Some patients may need stronger pain medicines to control their discomfort after surgery. These pain medicines can have side effects.
Patients can expect laparoscopic hernia mesh recovery to be about the same as open repair recovery. This includes inguinal hernia surgery recovery time, umbilical (belly button) hernia surgery recovery and femoral hernia surgery recovery.
Length of Hospital Stay After Hernia Mesh Surgery
Most patients can go home from the hospital the same day as their surgery. Patients should have someone available to take them home from the hospital. They should not drive for a few days.
The surgical team will move patients to a recovery room immediately after surgery. Patients can expect to experience postoperative nausea, pain, dizziness and fatigue. All should subside as the anesthesia wears off.
Managing Pain After Hernia Mesh Surgery
Over-the-counter pain medicines such as Tylenol can sometimes control pain after hernia surgery. Some patients may need a stronger pain medicine.
Doctors may prescribe opioids or narcotics (i.e. morphine or oxycodone – Percocet). Patients may only need stronger drugs for the first two days after surgery.
Pain medicines have several side effects including nausea, constipation and sleepiness.
What to Expect After Hernia Mesh Surgery
Recovering from hernia mesh surgery requires patience. Simple tasks may become difficult or awkward. Patients should try to have someone stay with them for a few days.
Patients should not shower for at least a day after the procedure.
Patients may feel tired or confused for two to three days. This can be a side effect of general anesthesia or pain medicine. Patients should not drive, drink alcohol or make any major decisions during this time.
Hernias can come back after hernia mesh surgery. It is important to avoid physical exertion that can cause hernia recurrence. The doctor will advise when it is safe to lift or carry things. Patients should also ask for their doctors’ advice on when it is safe to return to work.
Patients should begin to “feel normal” again about four to six weeks after surgery.
Days 1 to 4
- Patients should not return to work or school during this time.
- Patients should only perform necessary daily functions, such as walking around the house.
Days 4 to 7 (50% of normal capacity)
- Most patients can return to work or school by day 4.
- Avoid lifting anything over 15 pounds.
- Expect to still feel some pain.
- Doctors recommend walking and light stretching.
Week 2 (75% of normal capacity)
- All patients should be back to work or school by this time.
- Limit lifting to less than 20 pounds.
- Patients can resume jogging, biking, yoga, Pilates and light tennis.
- Patients should expect to feel some soreness or stiffness.
Week 3 (85% of normal capacity)
- Exercise can include running, cycling, swimming, surfing and golf.
- Patients should no longer need pain medicines.
- Lifting limitations remain the same.
Week 4 (95% of normal capacity)
- Lifting limitations no longer apply.
- Patients can resume all athletic activities, including contact sports and heavy lifting.
- Occasional sharp pains and some discomfort may still occur.
- Patients can resume sexual activity when pain subsides.
Hernia Mesh Surgery Recovery Tips
Recovering from hernia mesh surgery can be uncomfortable at best. At worst, it can lead to serious complications. Following the surgeon’s instructions and a few simple guidelines can improve recovery.
- Frequent, short walks every day can prevent blood clots.
- Eat Healthy
- A diet with plenty of water and fiber can help prevent constipation. This can reduce the chance of hernia recurrence.
- Reduce swelling
- Use ice packs no more than 20 minutes three to five times a day.
- Avoid lifting
- Lifting heavy objects can cause hernia recurrence.
- Dress for recovery
- Expandable or elastic waist bands provide comfort during swelling.
- Listen to the surgeon
- Following the doctor’s instructions can speed up recovery.
Follow-Up Care and Hernia Mesh Complications
The doctor will schedule follow-up appointments one or two weeks after surgery. These are to make sure the patient’s recovery is progressing without complications.
Patients experiencing certain symptoms following hernia repair surgery should contact their doctor immediately. These can be signs of serious complications or hernia mesh failure.
- Sudden increased pain at the surgical wound
- Increased redness at the incision
- Bleeding or drainage at the surgical site
- Nausea or vomiting
- High fever (more than 101 degrees)
- Trouble urinating
- Excessive swelling or bruising at the incision
Symptoms of Hernia Mesh Rejection
People can have inflammatory reactions to hernia mesh. These are usually a sign of infection. But in rare cases, materials in the mesh may trigger the body’s immune response. The symptoms can be similar to infection following hernia mesh surgery.
Physical Activity After Hernia Mesh Surgery
Patients should take frequent short walks beginning right after surgery. But returning to other physical activity depends on the patient and the procedure. People may be able to walk up to a few miles a day in the first couple of weeks.
Most people will be able to resume full activity two weeks after hernia mesh surgery. It can be as long as four weeks with non-mesh hernia surgery. A doctor can determine when an individual patient is ready.
How Long After Hernia Surgery Can I Have Sex?
Patients can resume sexual activity usually within four weeks. Generally, patients can resume having sex as soon as it is no longer painful. Patients should consult with their doctor about when they can resume sexual activity.
A 2016 study found that sexual activity improves following hernia repair. Hernias can make having sex painful. Researchers looked at patients before and after hernia repair. They found that after repair, patients found sex less painful and more enjoyable.
Constipation and Hernia Recovery
Constipation can lead to hernia recurrence. Mesh can detach if a patient strains too much following hernia mesh surgery.
Some patients may not have a bowel movement for up to five days. This is normal. Patients should talk to their doctor about ways to relieve constipation.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.