Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery

Hernias are very common.  They are abnormal openings in the abdominal wall muscles which allow abdominal contents to bulge outwards.

With time they just get bigger and bigger and they are often painful and can sometimes cause strangulated or dead bowel.  They can arise after heavy lifting, coughing or straining or after surgery.  They often require operative repair.  This can be via an open incision when a plastic mesh can be inserted over the hernia hole.

Newer laparoscopic or keyhole techniques have also been developed and these can reduce the size of the scar and reduce the post-operative recovery period from 8 weeks down to 2 weeks.  The laparoscopic approach is particularly attractive for patients with recurrent hernias or hernias in both groins.

No special preparations are required for keyhole hernia surgery.  You will have your hernia area shaved when you are asleep.  If patients are otherwise fit and well and have someone to look after them at home then their operation can often be done as a daycase procedure.  Otherwise a one night hospital stay is required.  After the operation patients should not do any heavy lifting or heavy exercise for two weeks but light duties and walking are encouraged.  Patients should try to keep their wounds dry for 48 hours to enable a scab to form over the wound which is the best type of dressing.  Patients can wash and shower as normal after surgery but they should replace any wet dressings with dry ones in the first 48 hours.  After two weeks most keyhole surgery patients will be able to resume all normal activities.  If patients have had to have open surgery through a large incision then they may have to stay in hospital for several days longer and their recovery time at home is lengthened up to eight weeks.  There is no strict rule on getting back to driving but you should be happy that you can do an emergency stop and slam down the brakes if a young child were to suddenly run in front of your car.  For many patients this means not driving for at least one week after surgery.  Hospital clinic follow up is not normally arranged after hernia surgery for NHS patients and they should present to their GP in the first instance if they are having any unforeseen difficulties.