Medical hygienists also recommend surgery to treat inguinal hernias when the hernia has reached a significant size and where treatment with natural remedies has achieved poor results.
How long does inguinal hernia surgery take?
Usually, patients are faced with 2 solutions:
classic surgery (anterior inguinal hernioplasty) with local anaesthesia. Through a small incision, the hernia is identified and repositioned inside the abdomen. An appropriately shaped and biocompatible, synthetic, non-reabsorbable mesh is fixed to the muscles and tendons to reinforce the muscle walls. This procedure has the advantage of being performed in day hospital, where the patient remains in the facility only for the time necessary for the procedure and then returns to their own home without occupying a hospital bed.
Laparoscopy under general anaesthesia and less traumatic recovery. By adopting a minimally invasive method, there is a significant reduction in surgical trauma and post-operative recovery is more rapid. This is generally performed on patients in good health, capable of being subjected to general anaesthesia, to treat bilateral inguinal hernias, i.e. on both right and left sides at the same time, or in the case of relapsing hernia already treated by anterior surgery. On average, the hospitalisation time is four days.
The surgeon shall decide the most appropriate technique, depending on their experience and the patient’s state of health.
How long does post-operative pain last for?
The perceivable pain immediately after surgery is bearable. In subsequent days, there may be some general “bother” because sitting down and standing up will be movements that cause some discomfort. But nothing unbearable. With passing days, the improvements are evident. It is only a matter of having some patience. From the fourth day, it will be possible to laugh, sneeze and cough without pain.
During the period in hospital, the genitals tend to assume a bluish colour, and the swelling of the area makes it seem the surgery has still not been performed.
Risks associated with surgery for inguinal hernia
The operation is relatively safe and the possible complications are rare: in any case, knowing the potential risks allows patients to evaluate any post-operative symptoms with greater safety:
The risk associated with general anaesthesia, particularly likely in elderly patients or those with prior health problems; this aspect can sometimes be associated with nausea, vomiting, urinary retention, sore throat and headache. Rare and more severe complications include heart attack, stroke, pneumonia and blood clots in the legs (thrombosis). To reduce the risk of thrombosis and pneumonia, it is useful to get out of bed as soon as possible after the operation.
It is possible for the hernia to reappear several years after the operation: this is the most common complication.
In approx. 2 patients in 100, bleeding occurs requiring further surgery.
Although somewhat rare, infections of the surgical wound are in any case possible: more common in adults than in children, they can cause fever, reddening, swelling and pain at the wound site.
Sometimes the wound can become a cause of pain, which generally resolves over time.
Complications affecting the internal organs near the area of the operation are extremely rare: intestine, bladder, kidneys, nerves, blood vessels, reproductive organs.
Changes in the sensitivity of the skin in the area of the operation can occur after inguinal hernioplasty (anaesthesia, pain, tingling). Generally, these sensitivity problems resolve progressively over the arc of a few months.
In the first week there can be sharp pains when making movements that place the abdominal muscles under tension. Actually, the first two days are an outright ordeal, which is only relieved by intramuscular painkillers (together with anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant drugs, prescribed by the surgeon). During this week, it is essential to avoid driving, since, due to the pain, the legs may have reduced reflexes.
After 15 days the stitches are removed and it is possible to begin thinking about leading a normal social life, only avoiding physical activity and exertion. For the latter activities, it will be necessary to wait at least one month after surgery, and another 10 more days before gradually restarting physical activity.
In the meantime, movement is recommended, taking short relaxing walks, in order to allow better positioning of the mesh, but no exertion. Time and tranquillity are required.
Sometimes, the pain experienced in the groin region after a hernia operation can be due to unnatural movements, poor post-operative posture and gait, which normally resolve progressively over time.
However, if the pain continues, it would be advisable to be “re-examined” by the surgeon, who will decide on the best therapy.
Swelling or inflammation can appear in the testicular sac following surgery
Even though not entirely normal, the onset of swelling immediately after surgery is very frequent. It appears similar to the operated hernia, but is painless and does not re-enter on lying down or by pressing with the fingers.
It is reabsorbed by the body over approx. 3 months, becoming increasingly more fluid.
However, sometimes it is not completely reabsorbed and must be drained using a syringe. The reabsorption process can be accelerated using hot-moist packs, avoiding however the area above the wound.
Relapse, reappearance of the hernia
With modern surgical techniques, the likelihood of a hernia reappearing is less than one in every 50 operations. In order to avoid a relapse, at 40 days after surgery, when gradual physical activity is restored, it is advisable to follow the prevention exercises in order to strengthen the abdomen.