Inguinal hernias occur when a piece of the intestine pushes through the inguinal canal, located in the lower abdomen and groin area. These hernias can result from numerous things, such as continual pressure on the abdominal muscles or the natural muscle weakening that occurs with age.
No matter the cause, the most effective treatment for an inguinal hernia repair in Orange County, CA. Check out the following information in this at-home recovery inguinal hernia repair guide as you prepare for the procedure.
Overview of Inguinal Hernia Repair
1. Types of Repair
Traditional hernia repair surgery is an open procedure where the surgeon makes a 3-4 inch incision near the hernia and directly fixes the affected area. The downside to this approach is that it’s fairly invasive and requires a longer recovery time.
Minimally invasive approaches like laparoscopic and robotic surgery are quickly becoming the standard in hernia repair surgery. Both procedures involve tiny incisions and the use of small surgical instruments and a tiny camera. Robotic surgery enables the surgeon to see the surgical field from a specialized computer screen with enhanced visibility and perform the entire operation with better precision from a robotic console.
The main difference between robotic and laparoscopic procedures is the tools involved. Despite the name, robotic surgeries are still performed by surgeons; they just include improved technology for better precision.
2. The Immediate Aftermath
It is normal to experience some grogginess and disorientation upon waking up as the anesthesia wears off. Patients are monitored for a short period after surgery for signs of complications. Once cleared, inguinal hernia repair patients go home the same day. Overnight or short hospital stays are typically required for individuals with complex or severe cases.
Preparing Your Home for Recovery
1. Creating a Comfortable Space
Before leaving for an inguinal hernia repair in Orange County, CA, people should ensure they have a clean, comfortable recovery space. They should not be doing any lifting, cleaning, or furniture moving right after having surgery, so all those adjustments should be made before the procedure.
For example, the bed should have plenty of pillows for support. The patient should also consider what they want to do while resting (e.g., watch TV, knit, read, or draw) and have everything within arm’s reach, perhaps on a nightstand or dresser. They should also make sure phone chargers, water bottles, and pain medication are also easily accessible.
2. Safety Measures
Cleaning the house before surgery isn’t just to create a comfortable space, it’s also to prevent safety hazards. If there’s clutter everywhere, that makes it more difficult to walk without tripping or making sudden movements that could reopen incisions or cause internal damage to the hernia repair site.
Patients should also focus on resting, not washing the dishes or making food. That’s why enlisting the help of family and friends is often a good idea. They can take care of taking the dog out or feeding the kids so that there’s no risk of straining the hernia or accidentally reinjuring the incision site.
3. Stocking Up
Proactive measures are the key to a successful recovery. Make sure to stock up on all the essential items before the procedure to alleviate any stress and unnecessary physical activity during those initial post-op days.
For example, patients should have comfortable clothing set aside and, surgeon approved over the counter pain relievers. They should also grocery shop right before the procedure so family members and friends can easily help with food prep.
Navigating Inguinal Hernia Repair Recovery Post-Op
Pain Management – The first few days will be the most painful, although the discomfort should begin to decline after the first 48 hours. Within a week, patients usually experience little to no pain, depending on their procedure type.
That said, it’s important to manage the pain early on to make the recovery process smoother. The surgeon prescribes medication or provides a list of pre-approved over-the-counter options. Getting plenty of rest and regularly icing the area can also help reduce any discomfort.
Dietary Adjustments – Patients can usually return to their regular diet right after surgery. However, maintaining a healthy digestive system is key to avoiding constipation and straining during bowel movements. Hydration is equally important in constipation prevention, so patients should drink at least eight glasses of water a day and eat foods high in water and fiber content.
Mobility and Physical Activity – Rest is critical to healing, but patients shouldn’t spend a week in bed. The lack of physical activity can increase inflammation and slow down the healing process. Regular movement helps reduce inflammation and pain while encouraging a quick recovery. Of course, patients should take it slow and gradually build up to their regular physical activity. If they were involved in any sports or strenuous exercises, they should wait at least two weeks and then only continue with their surgeon’s approval.
Cleanliness and Hygiene – The hernia specialist provides guidelines for wound care prior to patient discharge. The surgical site should be handled with care and only when necessary. The area must be kept dry and cleaned properly. Patients should follow all postoperative care instructions to prevent complications with their recovery.
Spotting Complications – As patients clean the incision site, they should routinely check for any signs of infection or complication. While some bruising, swelling, and redness are normal right after the procedure, those should begin to go away in a few days. If they persist—or worsen—that’s a warning sign. Any increased pain, pus, fever, and heat around the incision site could signal an infection.
Patients should also watch for hernia recurrence, which can happen anytime after surgery, including years later. Immediate medical attention is necessary at the first sign of hardness, swelling, pain, or a lump in the repair site.
Mental and Emotional Well Being
Coping with Recovery Downtime – Taking time off from your regular activities can be frustrating especially for patients with an active or on the go lifestyle. There are ways to cope with the downtime of recovery and make the most of those few days. Patients can use activities to stay occupied, such as movie marathons, puzzles, knitting, reading, or playing board games with families and friends. They can also try things like basic yoga positions (with their surgeon’s approval) and meditation to help calm any stress or boredom.
Seeking Support – Even with these activities, the surgical and recovery process can be a lot to handle mentally. Patients may develop post-op stress, anxiety, or depression, which is why plenty of support from family and friends is beneficial.
Follow-up Appointments – Hernia specialists typically want to see their patients within two weeks after surgery—or sooner if they need stitches removed. The first appointment is critical to check how they’re healing and to identify any potential complications. At this point, people can ask about returning to more strenuous activities and express any concerns they might have about their health, the healing process, or long term recovery.
Monitoring for Recurrence – Even with surgery, inguinal hernias can come back and if they’re in the same place, they are called incisional hernias. It’s important for patients to understand this and watch for early signs of hernia resurgence, such as a bulge or pain in the groin or abdominal area. Also, refraining from smoking, alcohol, and heavy lifting and maintaining a health weight can significantly reduce the risk of hernia recurrence.
While the thought of surgery can be intimidating, the good news is that inguinal hernia repair in Orange County, CA, doesn’t have to be and it doesn’t require a long or drawn out recovery. With a structured at home recovery plan combined with the support of loved ones and guidance of your hernia surgeon you can be well on your way to a normal life within a few days.
Maintain an open conversation with your hernia specialist and raise any questions or concerns as soon as possible to help the process go smoothly. If you’ve already had an inguinal hernia repair, feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.
To find out if inguinal hernia repair surgery is right for you, Contact Orange County General Robotic Surgery at (714) 706-1257 for a consultation with Dr. Abtin H. Khosravi.