What to Expect With a Hernia

Learn about what typically happens before, during, and after hernia surgery.


What to Expect: While Experiencing a Hernia

Hernias are a very common medical condition that occurs when an organ or fatty tissue bulges through a weak spot in the muscle wall containing it.¹ Roughly five million Americans experience a hernia, and as many as one million hernia repair surgeries are performed each year in the U.S.¹ ² While hernias can oftentimes be painless, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of a hernia to help prevent further complications.

Hernia Bulge Illustration

If you have a hernia, you probably have a lot of questions. 

You're not alone, hernias are very common. Visit our FAQ page to see common facts and questions from patients experiencing a hernia. You can also visit our blog to learn more about specific hernia-related topics. No matter what type of hernia or where you're at in your herna journey, Hernia Info is here for you.


See FAQs


Staying Active

Regular exercise and physical activity can help strengthen hernia-supportive muscles, improve posture, reduce pressure on internal organs, and maintain a healthy body weight—all of which can aid in reducing the risk of developing a hernia.¹ However, if you need to engage in heavy lifting, it’s important to abide by proper lifting techniques to help decrease your chances of developing a hernia. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting any exercise routine.


Read Staying Active With a Hernia Blog

Eating Smarter With a Hernia

Diet alone cannot treat a hernia, but eating certain foods and avoiding others can help you lead a more comfortable life.¹ When you have a hernia, diet depends on a few key factors, including smooth digestion, avoiding certain unhealthy and inflammatory foods, and reducing your risk of stomach and gastrointestinal (GI) problems.¹ ² Additionally, avoiding foods that are high in fat, acidity, too much fiber, and alcohol content may help reduce symptoms of a hernia including heartburn, acid indigestion, bloating, gas, and regurgitation.¹ ²


Read Ways to Eat Smarter With a Hernia Blog

Hernias in Men vs. Women

Although hernias are very common, they are more prevalent in men than women due to their anatomy. Approximately 1 in 4 men (25%) and 1 in 50 women (2%) will require surgery for hernia repair during their lifetime.¹ Hernias in women tend to be smaller and deeper than male hernias and often do not have a telltale bulge. Because of the female anatomy, chronic pelvic pain in women is often misdiagnosed as something other than a hernia—like uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or ovarian cysts.3


Read Hernias in Men Blog

Read Hernias in Women Blog

What to Expect: Before Hernia Surgery

As you prepare for surgery, it’s important to do what you can in the weeks and days leading up to it so you’re both mentally and physically prepared. From learning about the procedure itself, to understanding potential restrictions or lifestyle changes, being prepared is the best way to ensure a smooth transition from pre-op to post-op.

Female Patient Doctor Consultation

Have you been recently diagnosed with a hernia?

If you think you have (or have already been diagnosed with) a hernia, you may have questions or concerns regarding symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and recovery. We’re here to help. Check out our resources page for detailed information and answers to some of the most common hernia questions—including specific questions/topics to discuss with your doctors.


Download Doctor Discussion Guide


Know Your Repair Options

Innovations in surgical procedures and surgical mesh are enabling new pathways for repair options. If hernia repair surgery is in your future, it’s important to understand your options, the pros and cons of surgery and mesh types, and what to expect before, during, and after repair.


Read Know Your Options Blog

Weight Loss

If you’re overweight or obese and in need of hernia surgery, it’s important to understand the potential benefits of losing weight before your procedure. Not only can it make surgery easier, it can also decrease post-op complications and more.


Read Prehabilitation: Should I Lose Weight Blog

Lifestyle Changes

There are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce future risks of a hernia. Be sure to ask your doctor about your potential risks, as well as what he or she recommends you do at home to help reduce the likelihood of them occurring.


Download Lifestyle Changes Guide

What to Expect: After Hernia Surgery

The road to recovery typically begins right after surgery. Depending on the complexity of your procedure, you may be sent home a few hours or a few days after surgery. One of the most common question patients have for when they get home is: "How soon can I engage in my typical physical activity after surgery?"


Read Recovery From Hernia Surgery Blog

Road to Recovery

So you've gone through hernia surgery, now what?

Taking the necessary precautions after hernia surgery can assist in a full and successful recovery to get you back to the activities you love. Each patient will have a different postoperative recovery and activity level. Talk to your doctor about the activities you can do, and those you should avoid, after hernia surgery.


Read Typical Do's and Don'ts After Surgery


Wound Care Post-Surgery

To help ensure your wound heals properly, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions after hernia repair surgery. Common instructions may include: 

  • If you have strips of tape closing the incision, leave the tape on for a week until it falls off or follow your doctor's instructions for removing the tape.
  • If you have staples closing the incision, you will need to visit your doctor to have them removed (typically in 1-2 weeks).
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. Cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.

Bowel Movements

Surgery can to back up your bowels due to surgical anesthesia, narcotics/pain control, and limited mobility. A normal bowel routine (passing gas and bowel movement) should happen within a few days of surgery. Over the counter (OTC) stool softeners can be taken if needed. It’s important to monitor your bowels closely after surgery (especially if you are taking prescribed narcotics) and contact your doctor if you have any concerns.

Hernia Recurrence

A recurrent hernia is recognized as a (sometimes) painful bulge that appears at or near the site of the original hernia.⁴ While it is possible for a hernia to reoccur due to surgical error or improper healing of a surgical wound, a recurrent hernia can also happen due to post-surgical conditions and behaviors such as:

  • Weight gain/obesity
  • Chronic, acute cough
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Medications that may compromise the immune system
  • Strenuous activities or being too active too soon

If you’re concerned you may have a recurrent hernia, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.


Read Recurrent Hernias Blog

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