Hernias affect millions of people worldwide. A hernia arises when the strength layer of the abdominal wall develops a weak spot and an organ or fatty tissue can push through it. The condition can be painful and debilitating for some patients. Surgery is a common, effective treatment for hernias and the recovery process can vary based on several factors, including the type of hernia, the surgical technique used and the patient’s overall health.
“In the first few days after surgery, patients may experience pain or discomfort, which can be managed with a combination of medications,” says Dr. S. Julie-Ann Lloyd, Baylor Medicine hernia surgeon. “Most patients can be discharged home on the same day as the surgery or the following day.”
Returning to work after hernia surgery
The time to return to work depends on your type of work and the surgical technique used to repair your hernia. “For patients with a sedentary job, such as desk or office work, one to two weeks may be adequate time away from work,” says Lloyd. “However, with more physically demanding jobs, such as construction or competitive sports, convalescence may take longer, usually between four to six weeks.”
Working out after hernia surgery
Patients should avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting for the first few weeks after surgery, Lloyd says.
“It’s important for patients to avoid activities that could compromise their recovery or disrupt their incisions,” says Lloyd. “After about six to eight weeks, the incisions should fully heal and patients can gradually resume their regular exercise routine. I would also caution patients that they may become somewhat deconditioned during the recovery period – start low and go slow.”
Sex after hernia surgery
According to Lloyd, patients should avoid sexual activity for at least two weeks after surgery to allow the incisions to heal.
“Again, it depends on several factors. After two weeks, most patients can gradually resume sexual activity, taking care not to put pressure on the incisions,” says Lloyd. “Listen to your body. If you experience any pain or discomfort during sexual activity, stop and consult with your doctor.”
Learn more about the Baylor Medicine Hernia Center.
By Tiffany Harston, communications associate with the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery