How long is hernia surgery recovery time?

There is no hard number that is consistently used to determine when patients can resume physical activity after hernia surgery. In fact, recent scientific data suggests that minimal down time is suggested during the hernia surgery recovery. Most patients can return to desk work in 1-3 days and resume normal exercise at 2 weeks. Recovery time after hernia surgery should discussed  with your hernia surgeon, as some types of hernia repair will require longer recovery times.


Recovery Time after Hernia Surgery

Recovery time after hernia surgery depends on the type of hernia treatment. There are several types of abdominal wall hernias, and several ways to fix each one. Inguinal hernia is the most common abdominal wall hernia, with over 800,000 operations performed per year in the united states.  This is the type of hernia that we specialize in, performing the least invasive operation possible, by combining all the benefits of laparoscopic and open surgery, while eliminating the downsides of both. Feel free to read more about our Fast Recovery Inguinal Hernia Surgery.   The next most common type of hernia is an umbilical hernia. These are often small hernias that can be repaired by sutures or mesh, depending on the individual patient and the size of the hernia. The most complicated hernias are incisional hernias. While some of these hernias are small, and can be treated like umbilical hernias, some incisional hernias require large pieces of mesh to repair. These larger incisional hernias often require the use of laparoscopic instruments, general anesthesia, and an overnight stay in the hospital. Dr. Reinhorn no longer performs laparoscopic repair of large incisional hernias, but one of his partners does this routinely and is happy to take care of patients with patients who require laparoscopic surgery.

Recovery time for the hernia surgery that Dr. Reinhorn  and Dr. Fullington perform (for inguinal, umbilical, and small incisional hernias) is about 2 weeks. Many patients feel well enough to perform normal daily activities – including driving and return to work – after only a couple of days, but we restrict patient activity for 2 weeks to allow for adequate healing. Patients should not exercise or do any heavy lifting for the first 2 weeks after hernia surgery. For inguinal hernia and umbilical hernia, once the surgery is done, the body is in better shape than before the surgery, but in the first 2 weeks afterward, patients may experience quite a bit of swelling and scarring that could prevent them from doing some of the activities they are accustomed to. In inguinal hernias, the mesh is much larger and can move a bit if activity is resumed too soon. For this reason, we typically recommend avoiding exercise, and only walking for the first 2 weeks before return to full activity and recover from hernia surgery. This restriction on activity after the open preperitoneal approach also ensures that your body has had enough time to heal, preventing hernia recurrence or bleeding complications.  Umbilical hernia surgery recovery time is about two weeks.  This two week restriction helps reduce pain after surgery, and likely reduces the risk of a hernia recurrence.

About Dr. Reinhorn & Dr. Fullington

Dr. Michael Reinhorn is a specialist in inguinal hernia and umbilical hernia. He started his practice as a general surgeon in 2001, and in 2012 he transitioned to focus on the care of hernia patients. In 2018, he co-founded Boston Hernia, an ambulatory surgery practice focused exclusively on hernia surgery. In 2020, Dr. Nora Fullington was recruited from her work as a general surgeon, where she performed hundreds of laparoscopic hernia repairs, to Boston Hernia where she was intensively trained by Dr. Reinhorn in the open preperitoneal and Shouldice techniques. Together with their physician assistant team, they perform approximately 800 hernia surgeries every year. Both surgeons offer a tailored approach for each patient, taking into account individual patient factors to decide if surgery is recommended or not, what type of repair (open, laparoscopic, mesh, non-mesh) is best, and what type of anesthesia is safest. At Boston Hernia, our focus is on each individual patient and continuously improving our own surgical techniques and outcomes. We do this by participating in various hernia societies, studying our own outcomes through a national database, and publishing our data to influence the care of hernia patients nationally and internationally. Boston Hernia is an affiliate practice of the Mass General Brigham system. In addition to operating at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, a Mass General Brigham Hospital, we offer care at ambulatory surgery centers in Waltham, MA and Derry, NH.



What our patients are saying:

Dr Reinhorn and his staff were great. The people at Newton Wellesley were all great as well. Surgery went as I expected from reading the reviews. I had my surgery and two days later was vacationing in Florida. Can’t beat that.

12/9/15 –