How long will I be in the hospital?

Day surgery for hernia repair

The majority of routine hernia surgery in the US is day surgery (go home the same day as surgery) and is performed in the hospital. More recently, some patients are able to have hernia surgery in an ambulatory surgical center, which is an outpatient center separate from a hospital. Currently, we perform surgery in both hospital and surgery center settings, depending on the needs of each patient.

For routine hernia surgery performed in the hospital, patients usually check in about 1-2 hours before surgery, to allow time to meet with the entire surgical team and be prepped for surgery. Most routine hernia operations take about 30 to 90 minutes depending on the type and size of hernia. After surgery, patients spend about 1-2 hours in the recovery room before leaving the hospital to continue recovering from the comfort of their homes (4.5 to 5.5 hours in total on average). Patients who are overweight (BMI > 25) may require additional anesthesia during surgery, and will have a slightly longer recovery time. For hernia surgery performed in a surgery center, overall time at the center can be reduced when compared to the hospital and is around 3-4 hours on average. 

At Boston Hernia, we specialize in making the process of having surgery for hernia repair as smooth as possible. We recognize how anxiety provoking surgery can be and know that the logistics can add to this feeling. We are very experienced at understanding and addressing our patients needs and delivering care in a way that is designed to work for them.

Why our patients go home the same day after hernia surgery

Our practice specializes in getting our patients home the same day, spending anywhere from 3 to 6 hours in the hospital or surgery center in total. An overnight stay is not necessary in our practice, as we find that patients prefer to sleep in their own bed, with family members around to assist as needed. Patients who travel a long distance for the surgery often choose to stay one or two nights at nearby hotels. This location is just outside of Boston, making it easily accessible to anyone in the metropolitan Boston area.

Why would I need to stay in the hospital a few extra hours after hernia surgery?

In rare occasions, patients remain in the hospital for longer than the typical 3 to 6 hours. This extra time is spent in the recovery room, allowing the anesthesia from hernia surgery to wear off. We utilize a combination of local anesthesia, a nerve block, IV medications and sometimes inhaled anesthesia. The goal of this combination is to make our patients as comfortable as possible, both during surgery and throughout recovery, but there are potential side effects associated.

A rare side effect of the nerve block is weakness of the whole leg, requiring some additional time in the recovery area as well as a knee brace until the weakness resolves. This weakness typically resolves by later that evening, but sometimes can linger until the next morning. Patients who have a history of prostate issues may have difficulty voiding after surgery, which is also a potential side effect of general anesthesia. This may prolong hospital stay, as patients must urinate before being discharged from the recovery room. On very rare occasions, a urinary catheter is required to aid in voiding. For the few patients that require general anesthesia, it can take longer to wake up after surgery, and therefore prolong the stay in the hospital by an hour or two.



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 1000 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.