Post Op Instructions
Post-op course and instructions for Open (not Laparoscopic) Inguinal Hernias
In the hours after the repair you will feel groggy and tired from the general anesthesia. Some people experience shoulder pain from some trapped carbon dioxide in the abdominal cavity which generally resolves within 24 hours. The discomfort of this operation tends to be more related to opening the space to perform the operation and less to do with the hernias per se. It is usually described as a lower abdominal bloating discomfort which persists for 2-3 days. It tends to be worse upon getting up and down from the sitting or lying position and vice versa. Take the pain pills as necessary, but keep in mind that the medicine is likely a narcotic that causes constipation in most people. For that reason, it is always a good idea to start a stool softener like Colace (over the counter) prior to surgery, and continue it until you have stopped taking the pain medication. It is also recommended that you keep your diet very high in fiber, with lots of fruit, leafy vegetables, prune juice if you can deal with it, and plenty of water until your first bowel movement. Most importantly however is to take the pain medication only if you feel you need it, and not in anticipation of pain or discomfort. With this operation specifically, if you get constipated you may find the bloating discomfort aggravated, as you will strain to have a bowel movement, which will then cause more discomfort.
The discomfort is usually the worst the night of surgery and the next day. The second day is slightly better, and the third day afterwards is much better with each day thereafter improving fairly quickly. Most people stop taking the pain medication on the third day post-op.
I would recommend that you get up and move around your apartment or home even in the first several days. Once you are upright, whether sitting or standing, you should be comfortable. Stairs are not usually a problem but you will be moving slower of course. You may participate in any activity that is comfortable as soon as you feel up to it, including sex. Most people feel up to exercise within 10-14 days, though avoid anything that involves strenuous abdominal straining such as sit-ups or crunches, for up to 6 weeks. Low impact aerobic, and non abdominal weight training is possible when you feel ready. Start slow, of course.
Bruising and swelling is very common after lapaoscopic hernia surgery, and can include the scrotum and penis. Don't freak out as it always subsides within a week and is not associated with pain. Sometimes there is a little painless lump where the hernia was. This is usually blood or fluid that tracks through the mesh into the space that the hernia formerly occupied. It gets absorbed by the body within a month or two. Occasionally you will notice an achiness to the testicle on one or both sides. This sometimes presents several days after the operation and always resolves, usually within a few days. If this occurs, a scrotal support available at most surgical supply stores will help. Alternatively supportive jockey type underwear may be all that is necessary.
The dressing is a breathable clear plastic and is best left on until you come in for your post operative evaluation. You may take showers with it starting the day after surgery. Avoid baths or swimming however as it will get wet if submerged for any length of time.
If there are any questions or concerns not covered here, then please do not hesitate to call any time.
Please call to make an appointment to see your physician within 7-10 days after surgery for a post-operative visit. There he will evaluate the surgical site and remove the bandage and sutures in the wound. It is not a painful process.