Recovering from
hernia surgery.

Here's what you might expect after hernia surgery, from the first day through the first few weeks.1,2

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Waking up after

After waking up from surgery, there may be an IV used to provide fluids and pain medications. There may also be small bandages or glue over any incisions that were made during surgery. Small amounts of food and drink will be given to you shortly after you wake up. 

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Before leaving the hospital

A nurse will go over any discharge instructions with you before they leave the hospital. These instructions will include what to expect over the first few days, how to care for the incision(s), and a list of symptoms and warning signs. They will also provide a number to call if you have any concerns or questions. 

Medical professional helping a patient by showing her something on the tablet with patient in bed.

Going home after surgery

In addition to eating, drinking and being steady on your feet, you will have to be able to urinate before going home. A responsible adult should be there to drive you home and assist with any household duties for the first few days after surgery. 

Warning signs after surgery1,2

If any of the following occurs after surgery, you should contact a doctor.

  • Fever (over 100.4 F)
  • Odor or increased drainage from your incision
  • No bowel movements for three days or more
  • Excessive sweating
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Redness
  • Bleeding
  • Worsening pain

Recovering after hernia surgery1,2

It is important to rest for a few days after surgery. A pillow can be used to put over the abdomen for support in case of coughing, sneezing or vomiting (which can be a side effect of anesthesia).

The incision(s) may be sore for two or three days after surgery, and may be swollen, bruised, tender and numb. This is normal after surgery and should go away within a few weeks. The surgeon should be contacted if there are any concerns.

Your first week after hernia surgery.1,2

There are general guidelines about what someone should do when recovering from any surgery. Please make sure you speak to your doctor regarding your specific recovery plan. Following doctor’s instructions may help prevent infection and enhance healing.

  • Showering: Depending upon the type of repair you had, you may be able to shower in a day or two. Make sure to ask your doctor whether you need to keep your incision(s) dry and for how long.
  • Walking: Do it. It increases circulation, which speeds healing, but doesn’t strain the abdomen.
  • Eating: A diet high in fiber, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with drinking lots of fluids, will help avoid constipation (which can be caused by pain medication and inactivity) and the strain that goes with it. Ask your doctor about using a stool softener or laxative if needed.
  • Driving: The effects of anesthesia can stay with you for up to one week, impairing your ability to drive safely. Make sure you talk to your doctor about when it’s safe for you to drive after the type of anesthesia you’ve had. You should never drive while taking prescription pain medication. Depending on your repair, driving may strain the incision, so check with your doctor.
  • Lifting: Avoid it for at least the first few days. Then lift only very light objects that are easy to manage. As you slowly begin to lift more, use your knees and your back, not your abdominal muscles.
  • Working: Some people return to work within a week. It will depend on the type of surgery you had and the type of work you do. But remember that you’ll tire more easily at first. Consider working a partial day. If your work involves a lot of physical activity, you may not be ready to go back for a few weeks. Talk with your doctor about how and when to resume working.
  • Sports: You will not be able to play sports or engage in strenuous exercise for a few weeks. It will depend largely on the type of surgery you had — and the type of activity. Make sure to ask your doctor about resuming exercise routines or playing sports.
  • Sex: Ask your doctor when it’s appropriate for you to resume sexual activity. Your physical comfort will provide a good guide.

Patients & caregivers: This information is designed to provide you with helpful educational information but is for information purposes only, is not medical advice, and should not be used as an alternative to speaking with your doctor. No representation is made that the information provided is current, complete, or accurate. Medtronic does not assume any responsibility for persons relying on the information provided. Be sure to discuss questions specific to your health and treatments with a healthcare professional. For more information please speak to your healthcare professional.


HerniaSurge Group. International guidelines for groin hernia management. Hernia. 2018;22(1):1–165. doi:10.1007/s10029-017-1668-x.


Malangoni MA, Rosen, MJ. Hernias: In: CM Townsend, RD Beauchamp, et al. Sabiston textbook of Surgery, Philadelphia: Elsevier, 2012: Chapter 46