What is the recovery time after hernia surgery?
Pretty quick for most.
Not long at all if you take it easy!
There is no definitive number of days that surgeons use to determine when patients can resume physical activity after hernia surgery. In fact, because every type of hernia is different, we tend to use very general rules. But for the most common types of hernias and hernia repairs, data from recent research studies indicates that return to activity leads to faster recovery.
Recovery time largely depends on the type of hernia and type of repair. For the most common types of hernia such as inguinal (groin) hernias and umbilical (belly button) hernias, the recovery time is typically only a few days. Depending on the patient's occupation, most patients can return to work in a week. For people who typically sit at a desk, they can typically return to work in only 2-3 days.
Depending on the size of the hernia and the type of repair, we generally recommend that the patient take a week off from work to give themselves plenty of time to rest and recover. For people who do a great deal of physical labor for work, we recommend that they take 4-6 weeks before they return to full duty. They can return to "light duty" much sooner if available. We will discuss all of your individual and specific instructions in detail with you both before and after surgery.
We take extra measures at the time of surgery to give long-acting local anesthesia to provide hours to days of comfort, depending on type of medication delivery method, and all patients will receive multiple oral medications to use at home, known as "multi-modal" therapy, with the goal of minimal to no discomfort at all.
Most patients will go home on the day of surgery. Most of our patients have surgery in our outpatient surgery center, which makes for a much more smooth and efficient experience for patients. Not having to deal with the chaos and complexity of a hospital makes most patients feel much more comfortable and less anxious. In the time of the Covid Pandemic, it also reduces all of our exposure to sick patients in the hospital. For hernias that require larger surgery, most of those patients will require surgery in the hospital and most will stay overnight and go home the next day.
Every type of hernia is different and the amount of discomfort a patient will have during recovery most often depends on the location, size, and type. It will also depend on the type of surgery you had. For some types of hernia repair, minimally invasive surgery (Laparoscopic or Robotic) makes a huge difference in the length of time for recovery. For most larger hernia repairs, laparoscopic or robotic surgery, which have tiny incisions, the recovery is substantially faster. For the most common smaller hernias like umbilical (belly button) and inguinal (groin) hernias, most people are up and around on the day of surgery, and back to their daily activities the next day. A patient's only restrictions are typically those activities we request patients not to do during the recovery period (such as avoidance of heavy lifting). After a couple of days, most people are functioning very well, and after about a week, they are fairly back to normal. We routinely receive comments from patients about how shocked they are, and how they can't believe how quickly they've recovered and feel good.
You will be seen back at our office (or by telehealth for patients that come from other states or similar long distance) approximately 1-2 weeks after surgery. Most people are back to their daily activities by then. We will discuss any questions regarding, work, activity, exercise, etc. at that time. Of course, patients are always encouraged to call at any time with any questions or concerns they may have. We are always available 24/7.
If you think you have a hernia, or you are thinking about surgery: