Open Inguinal Hernia Repair Post-Surgery Guide

The following information is intended to guide you through your post-op recovery.


  • For the first few days after surgery, eat foods that you easily tolerate normally.

Medications/pain management:

  • Follow the directions on any new prescriptions that your doctor has given you. Prior to your discharge, you will learn which daily medications you need to take when you return home.
  • Pain management is an important part of your post-surgery care, and you should expect some discomfort after surgery. You may be sent home with a prescription for pain medication. It is important to take your pain medicine prior to your pain becoming intense in severity.
  • PLEASE NOTE: No pain medication refills will be authorized on the weekends. If a refill is needed, the request must be made BEFORE 12:00 PM (noon) on Friday.
  • Some side-effects from narcotic pain medication include nausea/vomiting and constipation. If you experience nausea/vomiting or constipation related to your pain medications, you should stop the medication and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain management.
  • Apply ice packs to the area just above your groin (in the area of the repair) for the first 24-36 hours after surgery, applying for 20-30 minutes every 1-2 hours while awake.

Bowel care:

  • While on narcotic pain medications, you should be taking Colace 100mg twice daily. If you do not have a bowel movement after 3 days, take Milk of Magnesia: one dose every 8 hours for 3 doses. If that does not work, call our office for other suggestions. You should also walk or move about as much as you are able. Drink 8 glasses of water per day to help facilitate bowel movements. If you experience watery, foul, frequent diarrhea, call our office for further evaluation.

Dressing/incision care:

  • You will have a plastic or fabric dressing over your incision site(s). Remove the outer dressing(s) 2 days after surgery. Leave the strips of tape (steri-strips) that cover incisions.
  • Steri-strips should remain in place for 10-14 days. The strips will gradually loosen and come off. If they do not come off within two weeks, you may remove them.
  • If your clothes irritate the incision or if you have some drainage, you may choose to leave a dry gauze dressing over your incision.
  • Inspect your incision daily for signs or symptoms of infection. These signs would include: increased swelling, redness, pain, or smelly wound drainage. It is normal to have some swelling and bruising around your incision. It is also normal to have a firm lump directly beneath your incision line. This will disappear within a couple of months.


  • If you have a plastic dressing, you may start showering 24 hours after surgery.
  • If you have a fabric dressing, you may shower after you remove the dressing (4 days after surgery).
  • You may shower with your steri-strips in place. Do not scrub across your steri-strips or staples.
    Do not bathe in a tub for 14 days after your surgery. This includes a “hot-tub”.
  • If you need to shave, please use caution around your incision, and avoid shaving over the incision or any sutures in the area.


  • You may drive when you are no longer taking narcotic pain medication AND you feel you can quickly respond to situations, while not placing others in jeopardy.

Physical activity/restrictions and return to work:

  • Upon your return home, minimize your activity level for the first 24 hours. Going to the bathroom is enough activity for the day. You should then begin a daily walking program that will gradually increase. Start by walking inside your home initially, and then gradually increase to walking around your neighborhood. Every patient needs to estimate the right the amount of walking time, according to their general status.
  • No lifting more than 10 lbs for 6 weeks post-op.
  • You may resume sexual activity when it is comfortable.
  • Your doctor should inform you of when you might return to work. Please notify our office if you need a return to work letter for your employer. It may take up to 48 hours for the letter to be completed. Please provide us a fax number for your employer, so we can fax your release.
  • The following will serve as a guide for when you might return to work or school:
    • Light lifting or no lifting jobs: You may return 1-2 weeks post-op with a weight lifting restriction of 10 lbs.
    • Heavy lifting or physical type jobs: You may return to this type of activity 6-8 weeks after surgery.
  • Usually you can begin to gradually increase your activity 4-6 weeks after surgery. Recurrent hernia repairs may require longer, you may discuss this further with your surgeon.

Follow-up appointment:

  • You will need to return to the office for a follow-up visit 2 weeks after your surgery. Please call after your surgery to schedule this appointment.
  • If you participate in the American Hernia Society Registry (AHSQC), NWSS staff will call you one week after surgery.


  • Some men may develop swelling and bruising on their penis and scrotum 24-72 hours after surgery. If this occurs, the bruising usually takes a couple of weeks to resolve. This does not have any effect on the function of the penis or scrotum. Apply an ice pack for 20-30 minutes intervals and wear a supportive garment to help with symptoms.

Problems to watch for; call the office for the following:

  1. Fever greater than 101.0
  2. Uncontrolled pain. That is on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst pain imaginable) your pain is a level 7 or above.
  3. Nausea and/or vomiting that continues for 12-24 hours.
  4. Diarrhea that continues for 12-48 hours.
  5. Signs of a wound infection: increased swelling, redness, pain, fever or smelly wound drainage.
  6. Chest pain or difficulty breathing.
  7. Your incision separates or opens up.

Please call the office if you have further questions. Our office is open Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. After office hours, the answering service will be available to take your call: 541-868-9303.