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Recovery From Hernia Mesh Surgery

Recovery from hernia mesh surgery can take weeks. Most people are able to return to work a week or two after surgery. Follow-up visits with the surgeon can prevent serious complications.

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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

Fact
Most hernia mesh surgeries are outpatient procedures.

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.

Fact
Patients may perform only basic functions for up to four days after hernia mesh surgery.

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.

Typical Hernia Mesh Surgery Recovery Timeline
  • 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.

Woman walking
Exercise helps prevent blood clots.
Exercise
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.

Most Common Hernia Mesh Complications
pain icon
Pain
infection icon
Infection
Hernia recurrence icon
Hernia Recurrence
hernia adhesion icon
Adhesion
bowel obstruction icon
Bowel Obstruction

Patients experiencing certain symptoms following hernia repair surgery should contact their doctor immediately. These can be signs of serious complications or hernia mesh failure.

Serious Complications After Hernia Mesh Surgery
  • 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
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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.

Mesh Rejection Symptoms
pain icon
Pain
inflammation icon
Inflammation
vomiting icon
Vomiting
thermometer icon
Fever

Physical Activity After Hernia Mesh Surgery

Risk of Blood Clots
Frequent walks can prevent dangerous blood clots in the legs. These clots can cause life-threatening pulmonary embolisms.

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.

Sexual Activity and Hernia Recovery

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.

Fact
Anesthesia during surgery and pain medicines after can cause constipation.

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.

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8 Cited Research Articles

  1. California Hernia Specialists. (n.d.). Recovery from Hernia Surgery. Retrieved from: http://californiaherniaspecialists.com/hernia-recovery/
  2. John Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). What to Expect After Hernia Surgery. Retrieved from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/hernia_center/repair_recovery/what_to_expect_after_hernia_surgery.html
  3. Jacob, MD, B. (n.d.). Recovery, What to Expect. Retrieved from: https://www.nychernia.com/recovery-what-to-expect/
  4. Huizen, J. (2017 October 20). All you need to know about hernia repair. Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319753.php
  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2017 December 28). Hernia Surgical Mesh Implants. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/HerniaSurgicalMesh/default.htm
  6. American College of Surgeons. (2016 April). Adult Umbilical Hernia Repair. Retrieved from: https://www.facs.org/~/media/files/education/patient%20ed/adultumbilical.ashx
  7. Sonmez, M.G., et al. (2016, June 20). Does Inguinal Hernia Repair Have an Effect on Sexual Functions? Central European Journal of Urology. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4986302/
  8. University Hospitals, Cleveland Medical Center. (n.d.). Post-Operative Instructions. Retrieved from http://www.uhhospitals.org/cleveland/services/surgery/our-divisions/general-and-gastrointestinal-surgery/comprehensive-hernia-center/postoperative-instructions
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