Hernia Surgery

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If you have an inguinal hernia, or worse a double (both sides of your lower abdomen) and are scheduling surgery for a mesh repair, there are some common things you can expect.

As with any type of surgery there will be pain, but because the surgeon will be sewing a piece of mesh netting into your body to keep the hernia from coming back, there will be an additional type of pain that doesn’t happen with most other kinds of surgeries. Because of the mesh itself and the sutures put in to hold it in place, there will internal stabs of pain that can occur any time you move. There will also be pinching sensations as the sutures hold onto tissue when you move. In addition, you will likely feel pain at the site of the incision, both from the cutting of the skin and from having it pulled back and held in place while the surgeon worked inside of you. For men, there will also likely be some pain in the groin due to general swelling in the area. The pain will feel like someone is gently squeezing your testicle(s). There will also be skin irritation from having the area shaved.

Degree of pain is difficult to measure or convey to others, and is quite subjective anyway, but most people who undergo hernia operations will tell you that it is quite painful. This is not to say however that it is unbearable, or bad enough to make you want to scream. For most people it’s more the kind that just hurts and is terribly uncomfortable as your body adjusts. Fortunately, for most people, the worst part only lasts two or three days at most, and during that time period you’ll have pain alleviation medication to help you deal with it. Also, the pain is almost minimal when you are laying flat on your back and not moving. So, in general, it’s bad, but not horrible.

After the surgery, you’ll notice a lot of bruising around the incision. As time passes, you’ll notice that it grows worse. Quite often the bruising will cover large swatches of the lower abdomen, penis (or vaginal lips if you are female) and scrotum. It will likely look awful and scary but it is harmless and doesn’t mean anything dire is going on.

Because virtually all of the medications used for pain relief cause some degree of constipation, a smart thing to do is reduce your intake of food two days prior to the surgery. You might even want to forgo eating anything at all the day before, so you won’t have to defecate for several days following the surgery, a very positive thing, since getting up and using a toilet (especially wiping) the first couple of days is painful and difficult. As for eating after your surgery, its best to eat as little as possible, and when you do, try to have things like broth or soup with as little chunky stuff as possible. The objective is to get some nourishment while avoiding things that contribute to bowel movements.

It is also recommended that you stay in bed the first two or three days except to urinate. A smart thing to do is to prepare ahead and make sure you have a TV at the foot of your bed, a remote control, some movies on DVD, some magazines or books, hand-held video games or anything else that you can do while lying flat back on your bed. The best things are those that completely take your mind away from where you are.

It is also recommended that you have someone there to help you for at least the first week, to feed you and to help you get in and out of bed.

As for the incision, you don’t really have to do anything to take care of it. Generally it will be sewn closed from the inside, and taped down outside. Thus there is no changing of bandages or any of that. All you have to do is rinse it when you take a shower, which you likely won’t do for at least a week.

Other than that, all you need do is follow your surgeon’s directions, which usually mean staying in bed a lot, but also getting up and getting around after the first week or so. Hernia surgery takes longer to heal than most other types of surgery due to the mesh inside you. Give yourself at least a month before getting up and doing things anywhere near normally. And don’t under any circumstances lift anything. Not even light stuff, let someone else do it for you if possible or leave it where it is. Lifting pulls at the sutures and if it happens often enough or involves too much weight the stitches will come apart and your hernia will be right back where it was.

More about this author: Sam E. Jones

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