Recovery From Hernia Surgery: What to Expect on the Road to Recovery

Hernia Info Authors

Recovery from Hernia Surgery

A hernia repair is generally an outpatient surgery—meaning that most patients can go home the same day of their operation, though some patients may have to stay in the hospital for a few days. Returning to an active lifestyle is often possible for most patients, but there are several guidelines your doctor may have you follow to help prevent a hernia in the future. Be sure to check with your doctor to discuss your own risks and limitations after surgery.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Hernia Surgery?

Recovery from hernia repair surgery varies from person to person but often takes several weeks or longer. Strenuous activity should be avoided for 4–6 weeks.1 While in most cases patients can eventually return to a normal active lifestyle, some lifestyle changes may be required after your operation.

Do’s and Don'ts After Hernia Repair Surgery

To reduce complications, always follow your doctor or hospital's instructions for what to do after your surgery. Below are some things hernia repair patients typically do during the first few days post-surgery:

  • Arrange for someone to collect you from the hospital and bring you home (you won’t be able to drive immediately after the procedure).
  • Get plenty of rest and avoid lifting anything heavy for at least two weeks.
  • If you have to cough, sneeze, or move, apply mild pressure to the site beforehand.
  • Ask your doctor when you can shower after you get home (you may need to wait at least 48 hours after your surgery).
  • Schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor within two weeks of your surgery date to help ensure your hernia is healing properly and to identify any possible complications of surgery, like an infection.

How Long Does Pain Typically Last After a Hernia Repair?

As with any surgery, you will experience some pain and discomfort after surgery. This pain is often well-managed with over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Some doctors may prescribe other medicines as needed and will direct you how and when to take these. 

If you had laparoscopic surgery, your surgeon will inflate your abdomen with gas. After surgery you may experience pain in your shoulder due to trapped/residual CO2 gas.2 This is normal and typically resolves in a day or so. Be sure to ask your doctor if you have any concerns.

How Can I Care for My Incision at Home?

It is vital to take care of your incision when you go home and to follow the wound care instructions from your doctor. Your doctor or healthcare team will likely give you instructions that may include:

  • Washing the area daily with warm water and soap.
  • Patting the area dry (never rub or handle the area vigorously as you may reopen the wound).
  • Leave the surgical tape on for one week or until it falls off. 
  • If you have dissolvable stitches in the incision, your body will absorb them over time. Your doctor can advise you about this process. If you have staples closing the incision, your doctor will remove them at your follow-up appointment. You may need to cover the incision with a gauze bandage, which should be changed daily.

When Can I Go Back to Work After a Hernia Repair? 

Depending on the type of hernia and surgery received, most people require anywhere from several days to several weeks off of work after a hernia repair. This timeline depends on the type of work you do and the severity of your hernia. Your doctor will provide a recommended timeline for your own individual condition and lifestyle. It’s important to remember that hernia repair recovery requires patience.2

Can I Drive After Hernia Repair Surgery?

Your doctor will likely recommend that you ask someone to drive you home from surgery. It is typical for patients to be restricted from driving for up to two weeks after surgery to help avoid the physical strain of getting in and out of the car and driving. In addition, some pain medications warn patients not to drive while taking them.

Can I Play Sports or Be Active After a Hernia Repair?

Your doctor will advise you when it is okay for you to play sports and exercise again. Many patients return to their usual activity level a few weeks after surgery, but every person and every situation is different. Your healthcare team may recommend that you begin light walking as soon as possible after surgery, but avoid lifting more than ten pounds and strenuous exercise for at least two weeks. You will likely need your doctor’s approval prior to playing any sports.

What Lifestyle Changes Should I Make at Home?

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 they recommend you do at home to help reduce the likelihood of them occurring.

  • Diet: There are no specific restrictions, but maintaining a healthy weight is essential. Diets low in fat and high in fiber are recommended to help prevent constipation and the recurrence of your hernia.
  • Physical activity: Taking short walks can help you maintain a healthy weight. Avoid vigorous exercise, such as weightlifting or biking until your doctor approves it.
  • Avoid smoking: Smoking can negatively affect your body’s ability to heal and increase your risk of infection. Many doctors recommend that you stop smoking for at least 4 weeks prior to your surgery and at least 4 weeks after.
  • Manual handling: Proper manual handling techniques when lifting or moving a heavy object can help prevent future hernias. Avoid twisting or stooping, and keep your head up when lifting something.


The guidance provided in this article follows general rules that should be discussed with your doctor. This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not substitute for medical advice. If in doubt, always consult your doctor.

Ready for your hernia consultation?

Enter your location to locate surgeons and hospitals in your area who use mesh products.

Find a Local Surgeon

Related Articles

Join the community! Get notified about our latest articles and updates on all things hernia as they become available.