How To Win At Hernia Repair

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  • Much of this information will get into the "too much information" range, and you can't unhear it. So don't read this if you're not scheduled for hernia surgery, or you're going to be helping someone who is.
  • I'm not a doctor. This is just a collection of my personal experiences.

Putting in a lot of blank space, so you don't inadvertently read something if you're actually listening to my warning...


Back in 2007, I was scheduled to have an inguinal hernia repair on the left side of my abdomen. I was told that I would eventually get a hernia on the right side too. Sure enough, 10 years later I'm getting the right side fixed. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the more painful lessons, so maybe others can avoid them.

Open procedure or laparoscopic procedure?

I've had both, so this is such an easy answer: laparoscopic.

With the open procedure, they cut into your abdomen and work on it from the outside. I was down for two weeks. I had to get help just to roll out of bed for days. I had a 10cm incision, and it took over a year before I got feeling back on the south side of the cut.

With the laparoscopic repair, they go in through some small cuts, using some skinny tools and a camera, and work from the inside. The difference is incredible! I was able to walk down to my basement the next day, under my own power! I stopped taking the pain medication the day after the surgery. Two days after, I was feeling almost totally normal. No stitches with the laparoscopic procedure; just three 1cm incisions that were closed up with Steri-Strips.

Problems and solutions

  • Number one: NEVER EVER SNEEZE. When you feel one coming on, curl up into a ball and start rubbing your nose, or whatever you prefer do to prevent the sneeze from happening. If it happens, it will cause you immense pain, which you will feel for days. A sneeze will make you tense up all your abs, which will pull on the mesh that was installed, and will put strain on the fasteners they used to put it in. You will scream.
  • Number two: stool softener. (See what I did there?) Start taking it a day or two before your surgery. You don't realize how much you use your abs when you're on the toilet. And the pain medication they will give you will constipate you. Constipation means hard pushing when the medication wears off. Hard pushing plus surgery on your abdomen equals mega pain. Mega pain equals another scream. Don't over eat. What goes in must come out.
  • When you're in bed and watching TV or movies, don't watch anything funny. Laughing hurts. Laughter is not the best medicine, post-hernia repair.
  • Learn to roll out of bed. Sitting up hurts. You can just throw one leg over the other, and let gravity pull you out. When you need to sit up, learn to lift yourself by putting your shoulders against the wall and ratcheting up with your arms.
  • I had to sleep on my back the whole time. After a week, I could sleep on my side, but I had to stuff a pillow between my gut and the mattress. This minimized the tension on the opposite side of my belly.
  • The day after the surgery, I tried to get up and move as much as I could, to keep from getting stiff, and to reestablish my range of moment. By day three, there were very few ways I could move that would hurt. Specifically any kind of twist would hurt.
  • If it's winter when you have your repair, be extremely careful outside. The slightest slip can cause you to jerk your muscles and cause you a lot of pain.
    • Hire a neighbor kid to shovel for you. You definitely should not shovel, as it involves both a lifting and twisting motion.
  • Other things that hurt:
    • Farting
    • Coughing
    • Blowing your nose