Most surgery for managing inguinal hernias (located in the groin) is carried out using minimally invasive techniques (also referred to as laparoscopic or 'keyhole' surgery). The benefits of this approach are a significant reduction in pain and long-term success rates of around 99%.
The procedure involves making three very small incisions to the lower abdomen, through which laparoscopic surgical instruments are manoeuvred to perform the corrective surgery.
Once this is completed a section of medical grade synthetic mesh is positioned over the defect in the muscle wall that allowed the hernia to develop originally. Occasionally conventional open surgery may be required, which involves one slightly larger incision in the groin.
After a hernia procedure, patients can resume ordinary day-to-day activities (this includes work as long as this does not involve heavy manual labour) five to seven days after surgery, and can resume all other physical activity at the four week mark.
After surgery the incision points will be covered with a row of steri strips and then with an outer dressing which is waterproof (you can take a shower with these dressings on). 48 hours after surgery you can removed the waterproof dressing, but you should allow the steri strips to come off of their own accord. Since no conventional stitches are used there is no need to come in to get them removed.
There is often moderate to severe pain after this procedure. There may be some pain once the effects of the local anaesthetic have worn off around two hours after the procedure.
If this is the case we recommend the following combination of Panadol and Ibuprofen for the initial 48-hour period after surgery:
• Two (500mg) Paracetamol tablets every four to six (4-6) hours.
• Two (200mg) Ibuprofen tablets every six to eight (6-8) hours.
If pain continues beyond this period, or if it becomes severe, you should contact your doctor.
In rare cases, this pain relief may not be sufficient – in which case you will need to take stronger pain relief. You will require a prescription for Panadeine Forte – two (500mg) tablets every six to eight (6-8) hours.
Two things to be aware of with pain medication – you should be aware that Panadeine Forte has a sedative effect and also causes constipation. Before taking any of these medication, ensure that you are able to take Ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Nurofen).
You should not drive until the sixth (6th) day after the procedure.
Physical activity / sport
You should not resume sports activity or more demanding physical activity until 2-3 weeks after laparoscopic surgery. If you underwent conventional surgery, recovery is slower and sports and other physical activity may be resumed after a period of 5-6 weeks after surgery. If you are experiencing any pain, this is an indication that you should wait a little longer before resuming activity. Returning to these activities too early can result in the hernia reforming.
You will be given support stockings to aid your recovery, which should be worn for 2 weeks after surgery.
It is perfectly normal to experience some pain or aching in the scrotum for 2-3 weeks after the procedure and some bruising may be present in the groin, affecting the penis and scrotum - this generally clears up inside 7-14 days. Sexual activity can be resumed 7-14 days after the procedure.