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We get it—hernia surgery is no fun. But surgery is often the best way to fix the problem for good! Unfortunately, recovery may not seem quick, though. While everyone heals differently, certain activities are temporarily off the table.

Of course, you'll wonder when you can return to work, work out, and do other day-to-day stuff. But let's be honest - we know the intimate questions are on your mind, too. When can I have sex again? How do I ease back into it? Could getting intimate re-injure the delicate area?

It's awkward, but these worries are totally normal! Your love life is complicated enough without adding recovery rules to the mix. But have no fear - I'm here to tell you everything you need to know before getting intimate again after hernia surgery. 

So, without any further ado, let’s get into it!

Will Hernia Surgery Disrupt My Sex Life?

I know it is not the most comfortable topic! But clear information prevents worries and empowers you to bounce back better. This is even more important since Havard Medical School reported that 25% of men globally will experience inguinal hernia during their lifetime.

First, inguinal hernias in the groin/pelvic area are most likely to cause concerns for men. That region houses nerves and vessels essential for sexual function. When there's a hernia and surgical repair there, it's normal to stress about possible adverse effects downstairs.

While hernia surgery does involve some delicate work near critical structures, the good news is that there is minimal long-term sexual impact for most patients! Nerves are carefully preserved, and tissues are healed. Doctors utilize specialized techniques to safeguard sensation and function.

Still, utilizing surgical site muscles may initially be difficult or uncomfortable during intimacy. Soreness also temporarily challenges engaging relevant muscles. However, this impairment is short-lived. As post-operative swelling resolves and muscles heal, associated sexual difficulties dissipate, and normal function resumes.

The exact recovery duration varies from person to person. Deciding factors include hernia location, health status, surgery complexity, etc. But generally, take a minimum of 1 week off sex initially, as anesthesia causes fatigue anyway. Give your body proper rest! After that baseline time period, you can try resuming intimacy carefully. But stop immediately if you feel any pain or discomfort. That's a red flag, signaling that you still need more healing time.

Will I Get Erection After My Hernia Surgery?

It's understandable to be worried. Bruising, swelling, and discomfort around the genital region are common initially post-op. Fortunately, the risk of permanent injury to blood vessels, nerves, or reproductive structures remains extremely low.

Laparoscopic mesh repairs utilized for inguinal hernia surgeries are designed to safeguard and preserve function. So, your ability to get an erection should not be compromised long-term after proper healing occurs.

Remember that potential swelling and bruising are typically localized to inguinal hernia sites near the groin. Other hernia operations don't carry this same risk of temporarily impacting erections.

The key is being patient through the healing process. With time, swelling diminishes, and normal function steadily comes back online. 

Will Sex Be Painful After Hernia Repair?

Some tenderness is expected. But with the proper precautions, you can transition back to comfortable sex.

Incisions and mesh implants understandably cause some postsurgical soreness. Men may also experience genital swelling, decreasing desire initially.

Crucially, wait until your doctor gives the green light before attempting intercourse again. Also, choose sex positions that avoid abdominal pressure or irritation. Be ready to stop if you feel like you may pull on surgical sites or experience any amount of real pain. 

Regulating Sex Intensity After Hernia Surgery

Your surgeon will likely advise you to lay off anything too vigorous initially while you heal up. So, marathon sex sessions are off the table those first few weeks.

But when the green light does come for getting intimate again, be upfront with your partner. Share what activities you're comfortable trying or still nervous about. This lets him/her understand where you're at physically/mentally after the operation.

The key is not rushing back into your usual sexual routine until your body and mind feel prepared. There's no shame in needing to ease back into things or abstain from certain positions aggravating discomfort. So, communicate openly with your partner and avoid overdoing activities that could strain your surgery site.

Tips for An Injury-Free and Enjoyable Sex Post-Operation

Here are 5 tips for restoring comfortable, satisfying intimacy after hernia surgery:

Final Words

Bottom line - hernia surgery may bring a temporary setback in your sex plans. However, it’s best to hold off for now till you are fully recovered. 

Recovery time varies depending on the procedure, your unique body, age, and other factors. However, doctors typically recommend waiting at least a week post-op, sometimes longer.

Recovery from hernia surgery is a marathon, not a sprint! Avoid anything that aggravates pain or swelling, even once the initial recovery period passes. But stay confident that with patience, your sex life will be firing on all cylinders once again before you know it!

Hernias can definitely be a pain - quite literally! That uncomfortable bulging and occasional stabbing discomfort is your body's way of saying something's not right. 

While small hernias may seem harmless, they can lead to complications over time. Surgery is often needed to close up and reinforce weak spots where organs or tissue squeeze through abdominal muscles. 

It's normal to have some swelling or bloating around the site post-op while things heal. However, this sudden puffy tummy can make patients wonder – “Will my stomach shrink back to normal eventually after hernia repair?” “Or am I destined to look a few months pregnant forever?” “How can I find top hernia doctors near me that’ll come to my rescue?”

Don't worry – we’ll answer these questions and more in today’s post. We’ll also show you why bloating happens, as well as give tips to reduce it faster and fully return to your usual shape. 

Let’s get started!

What Causes Hernia in the Abdominal Region?

There are a few common culprits:

Essentially, a bulge can form over time if there's underlying strain, stretching, or inherent abdominal wall weakness.

How Serious is Abdominal Hernia Repair?

Now for the good news – abdominal/ventral hernia repair risks are low these days, especially if an experienced hernia surgeon uses a minimally invasive approach. Many smaller ventral hernias can even be fixed as an outpatient surgery.

Larger or more complex cases may require a 1–2-day hospital stay. But major complication rates should remain under 1% with the right hands at work. The procedures are common and generally very safe.

The Basis of Swelling After Hernia Surgery 

Swelling after surgery is your body's dramatic way of sounding the alarm bells that trauma occurred. All the poking, prodding, and rearranging during a hernia repair procedure inevitably scares your system a bit.

First, the hernia surgeon must cut through various skin and abdominal muscles layers to access the faulty area. Just entering the abdominal cavity exposes it to air, so extra air is often pumped in to give the surgeon room to work.

Although they remove as much excess air as possible before closing up, some inevitably get trapped inside post-surgery. It takes time to reabsorbed and release from the body, especially since staples, stitches, or surgical glue are used to seal the external incision site. 

Next, your immune system kicks into overdrive internally in response to the trauma. Blood circulation and fluid production surge to the region to transport infection-fighting cells and proteins needed for healing. When a bruise swells up and changes color, this influx of fluid and blood leads to unsightly puffiness and discoloration around hernia repair sites as the area heals.

When Will the Swelling End?

That timeline can vary from person to person. Most people deal with some degree of inflammation and fluid buildup for the first 1-2 weeks post-op. But for some, the swelling takes its time fading - sticking around for many weeks or even months in rare cases.

Several factors affect how quickly the puffiness starts to subside:

Will My Stomach Shrink After Hernia Repair?

Well, not directly - the stomach itself stays the same size. However, some secondary factors can lead to a flatter, firmer abdomen after the swelling subsides.

If a hernia is causing bloating or protruding outward, fixing it can take pressure off and tighten things up. Building stronger core muscles through activity post-surgery also helps create a more toned tummy over time.

Tips to Relieve Swelling After Hernia Repair

It's totally normal to experience some swelling and bloating post-surgery. But the good news is there are small things you can do to help minimize discomfort during the healing process! 

Choose Foods That Reduce Bloating 

I recommend sticking to fruits, veggies, and other nutrient-dense foods in the initial recovery period. Things like avocados, berries, cucumbers, ginger, and bananas are all great options that can help prevent gas buildup. On the flip side, try to avoid greasy meals, dairy, or sodas for now - these tend to irritate the digestive system. The better you fuel your body, the less inflammation you'll deal with!

Stay Regular Bowel Movement-wise

Keeping your bowel movements frequent and soft is crucial for feeling comfier as you recover. Constipation, unfortunately, allows gas and bloating to build up. The anesthesia, surgery, and medication can make digestive slowdown a real issue. Consider a gentle stool softener to ease bowel movements and reduce abdominal expansion from the trapped gas. The more regular you are, the less cramped and distended things will feel!

Walk It Out 

Believe it or not, staying lightly active can tremendously help minimize swelling and support healing! Nothing intense - listen to your body to avoid overexertion. Some gentle walking or range of motion exercises get things moving internally too. Just be mindful not to overstretch tissues at the tender surgery site. 

Get Plenty of Rest 

Healing takes lots of rest! Make sure to create time for relaxation as your body repairs itself - minimize disruptions or excursions at first. Consider this as permission to nap and take it easy without distractions.

Follow Post-Op Instructions 

Before discharge, your hernia doctor will share guidelines for recovering comfortably at home. Be sure to stick to these! Strictly following their custom recovery plan minimizes risks and complications down the line. Don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions either - the more you understand the instructions, the smoother your healing.

Don't Skip Follow-Ups 

It's tempting to cancel if you feel okay, but those post-op check-ins are mandatory! Monitoring your progress regularly enables the hernia surgeon to confirm you're healing as expected and catch any hiccups early. 

Key Takeaways

Temporary swelling is totally normal post-op as your body kicks into healing mode. So, no need to panic! 

Patience is key over the next few weeks while the inflammation resolves itself and things settle into place. Also, maintaining good nutrition and an active lifestyle after surgery is what really transforms your body for the better.

Lastly, maintaining open communication with your surgical team allows you to voice any questions or concerns along the way. So, do a quick online search of “Top hernia surgeons near me” to ensure quality healthcare. Their guidance, combined with patience and self-care, will have you looking and feeling like your best self again soon!

If you're faced with the discomfort of a hernia, you're not alone. Hernias can be painful and disrupt your daily life, but the good news is that hernia surgery can offer relief. One of the most common questions patients have is, "How long does hernia surgery take?" The answer isn't straightforward, as several factors come into play. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the duration of different hernia surgeries, including laparoscopic or robotic basic hernia surgery, robotic complex hernia surgery, and open complex hernia surgery. 

Hernia surgery isn't just about alleviating physical discomfort; it's a step toward reclaiming your quality of life and regaining the ability to engage in activities you enjoy. By understanding the intricacies of the surgery and the factors influencing its duration, you're taking a proactive step towards informed decision-making and a smoother recovery journey.

Understanding Hernia Surgery

First, let's grasp the basics of hernia surgery. A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue pushes through a weak point in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue. Surgery is the primary treatment, involving the repositioning of the protruding organ or tissue and the repair of the weakened area. Surgical techniques vary, including open surgery and minimally invasive options like laparoscopic and robotic surgery. The choice depends on factors such as the hernia type, complexity, patient factors, patient preferences, and the surgeon's expertise.

Factors Affecting Surgery Duration

The duration of hernia surgery hinges on several factors, including:

Typical Duration of Hernia Surgeries

Now, let's delve into the typical durations of various hernia surgeries:

  1. Open Simple Ventral Hernia Surgery:  Ventral hernias is a broad term that usually refers to denovo (i.e. not caused by previous surgery) hernias of the abdominal wall.  These hernias are considered “primary” hernias and typically occur in the umbilicus (belly button) or the epigastrium (the area between your belly button and sternum).  Ventral hernias tend to be small, ie width are around 2cm or less.  On average, basic open ventral hernia surgery lasts between 30 minutes to an hour.
  1. Laparoscopic or Robotic Ventral Hernia Surgery:  These minimally invasive approaches tend to take longer than open surgery for small ventral hernias, but they tend to be more secure repairs that are less likely to fail.  On average, basic hernia surgeries of this type typically last between an hour to 2 hours.
  1. Laparoscopic or Robotic Inguinal Hernia Surgery: This minimally invasive approach boasts a quicker recovery time. On average, basic hernia surgeries of this type typically last between 30 minutes to an hour
  1. Robotic Complex Inguinal Hernia Surgery: Inguinal hernias are considered complex when the patient has old mesh in the groin, has had radiation to the pelvis, has had surgery in the pelvis (such as prostatectomy), or has a large hernia that goes into the scrotum.  Patient factors such as morbid obesity can also make inguinal hernia repairs more complex.  These surgeries require much more surgery time.  Complex hernias are difficult to complete laparoscopically, so most are done robotically.  Surgery times range from 1.5 to 3 hours or longer.
  1. Robotic Basic Ventral/Incisional Hernia Surgery:  Ventral/Incisional hernias that are larger, ie 2-4cm or patients who are at higher risk for failures from open repairs, benefit from robotic repair.  Robotic repairs allow mesh to be inserted behind the repaired defect to reinforce the repair, kind of like adding rebar to the abdominal tissue.  Basic Ventral/Incisional hernias typically take 1 to 2 hours to repair robotically.
  1. Robotic Complex Incisional Hernia Surgery:  Incisional hernias can be considered complex for many reasons, including multiple previous abdominal surgeries which increases the risk of adhesions, previous abdominal mesh, incarcerated hernias, or a hernia width greater than 5cm.  There are many more factors and the list is much too long and complex for this write-up.  Arrange for a consultation with Dr. Rockson Liu to determine if your hernia is considered complex.  The length of these surgeries are highly dependent on patient factors and the skillset and experience of the surgeon.  What may be considered complex by an average surgeon may be considered simple by an experienced surgeon with advanced robotic skillset and advanced repair techniques. 
  1. Open Complex Hernia Surgery: In Dr. Rockson Liu’s practice open surgery is reserved for only the most complex incisional hernias, since hernias fixed with open surgeries have higher complication rates and longer recovery.  Hernias that usually require open surgery include ones with intestinal fistulas (and opening of the intestine through the skin of the abdomen), giant defects (greater than 15cm wide), and loss of domain (most of the intestine resides outside of the abdominal cavity).  For open complex hernias surgery the operative time is highly variable but usually take 5 to 8 hours or even longer, contingent upon the hernia's size and complexity.

Remember that these are general timeframes, and individual cases can vary significantly. Your surgeon will provide a more precise estimate tailored to your specific condition.

Minimally Invasive vs. Open Surgery

While considering hernia surgery, you may wonder whether to opt for minimally invasive surgery or the traditional open approach. Beyond surgery duration, other factors, such as recovery time and potential complications, also factor into your decision.

Recovery and Postoperative Care

After hernia surgery, your recovery time isn't solely dependent on the duration of the surgery itself. Variables like your overall health, the type of anesthesia administered, and your body's response to surgery also come into play. Generally, patients can expect to resume regular activities within a few weeks, with complete recovery taking a bit longer.

Postoperative care is vital for a successful recovery. Your surgeon will provide specific instructions to follow during the recovery period. This may include restrictions on lifting heavy objects, dietary guidelines, and prescribed medications for pain management. It's crucial to adhere to these recommendations to ensure a smooth recovery process.

Consultation with a Surgeon

For precise information about the expected duration of your hernia surgery, it's crucial to consult a hernia specialist or surgeon. They'll assess your specific condition, considering factors like your overall health, the size and complexity of your hernia, and the surgical technique to be used. Based on this assessment, they'll provide a personalized estimate of the surgery's duration.

During the consultation, don't hesitate to ask any questions or express concerns you may have. Your surgeon is there to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about your surgery.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the duration of hernia surgery isn't one-size-fits-all; it hinges on numerous factors. Whether you're considering laparoscopic, robotic, or open surgery, consult a qualified surgeon who can offer a precise estimate and guide you through the process. An informed decision can lead to a smoother surgical experience and a speedier recovery.

With this comprehensive guide, you're better equipped to understand and prepare for your hernia surgery, ensuring you're on the path to a healthier and more comfortable life.

Inguinal

Another name for groin hernias.  It's the 2nd most common type of hernia.  It is 10x more common in men.  These hernias can be divided into direct or indirect.

Umbilical

The most common type of hernia.  Everyone has a small opening in the belly button left by the umbilical cord.  This opening can enlarge, resulting in a hernia.  The hernia must be repaired when it is enlarging or causing symptoms like pain or intestinal blockage.

Incisional

This type of hernia develops where a surgeon has previously cut through the abdominal wall.  These hernias come in all sizes and complexity.  Many can be difficult to repair, and require a robotic hernia specialist to achieve a durable repair.  The PATCH Institute is one of the only centers in the Bay Area with extensive experience in robotic repairs.

Hiatal

This type of hernia occurs when the stomach slips through the diaphragm hiatus into the chest.  Frequently patients have heartburn, chest pain or trouble swallowing.  There are 4 types of hiatal hernias.  Repairs are usually done through the abdomen and involve pulling the stomach into the abdomen, tightening the diaphragm hiatus and performing a fundoplication (wrap).

Additional Hernia Types

Paraesophageal

This is a type of hiatal hernia but is frequently used by general surgeons to refer to very large hiatal hernia where more than 1/3 of the stomach is in the chest.

Epigastric

A hernia that occurs in the linea alba in the upper midline of the abdomen.  These usually are small and feel like small lumps under the skin.

Diaphragmatic

The diaphragm is a muscle and can develop hernias. Hiatal & paraesophageal hernias are the most common.  Less common types include Morgagni or Bochdalek.

Spigelian

Occurs in either lower quadrant of the abdomen, above the groin, where the posterior connective tissue layer thins.

Parastomal

A hernia that forms around a stoma (colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy).  More than 50% of patients with stomas will eventually develop a parastomal hernia.  These should be fixed when the hernia affects the function of the stoma, or causes pain or blockage. 

Ventral

This is a term that applies to all hernias in the front of the abdomen.  Usually they refer to larger umbilical hernias.

The PATCH Institute offers all options

The general scientific knowledge of hernias has grown exponentially in the last few years. Advancements in technology have also greatly increased our surgery options. The surgeons at The PATCH Institute are experts in utilizing the latest knowledge, techniques and technology to repair your hernia with the smallest scars, quickest recovery and lowest complication rate. During the consultation, your general surgeon will determine the best surgery option for you.

OPEN SURGERY

This is the traditional approach with a larger incision at the hernia bulge. This type of surgery is still preferred when the hernia is either very small or very complex. For example, many inguinal and umbilical hernias are many times best performed open. Open surgery is sometimes better in complex hernia repair when there is mesh to be removed, when intestine needs to be resected or when there is a lot of skin/fat that needs to be removed.

LAPAROSCOPIC SURGERY

A form of minimally invasive surgery introduced in the 1980’s. Laparoscopic surgery uses small incisions away from the hernia bulge.  It frequently leads to less complications than open surgery. Today, it is used for hernia repairs that don’t require advanced robotic surgical systems.  It has several limitations:  the surgeon uses straight instruments that may limit the precision of surgery, it is difficult to place mesh outside the abdominal cavity, more surgeon fatigue due to poor ergonomics, and it requires sometimes painful fixation tacks and sutures.

ROBOTIC-ASSISTED SURGERY

A form of minimally invasive surgery through small incisions. It utilizes advanced robotic surgical systems such as the daVinci robot. The robot is not autonomous. It is simply a more advanced surgical tool and is FULLY controlled by the surgeon. The robotic platform offers the surgeon fully wristed instruments and a 3D high-definition camera with 10x magnification. As a result, the repair can be done with more precision, and complex hernias can be fixed with small incisions. Furthermore, the robot doesn’t get tired and the surgeon sits during surgery, so there is less surgeon fatigue. For the patient, this translates into quicker recovery, less pain and less complications. This is the preferred approach for medium to large hernias and many inguinal hernias as it combines the best of open and laparoscopic surgeries. Also, the surgeon is more likely to be able to sandwich the mesh between layers of the abdominal wall to keep the mesh from coming into contact with the intestines.

HYBRID SURGERY

Sometimes the best option is to combine multiple techniques. We call this a hybrid technique because we may perform part of the operation robotically and another part open.  Hybrid surgery is frequently performed for complex or unusual hernias, and ones that require skin or soft tissue removal.  

Experience Matters

Regardless of the option that is right for you, the surgeon's experience is probably what matters most.  Using the latest robotic technology does not guarantee great results.  Frequently surgeons will promise a laparoscopic or robotic approach but have a high conversion rate to open surgery.  At The PATCH Institute we are experts at minimally invasive hernia repair, and have an extremely low conversion rate.

What is mesh?

Mesh is a sheet of material designed to reinforce a hernia repair. It can be called a "screen" or "patch" also.

Material

Mesh can be divided into synthetic or biologic, and permanent or absorbable.  Biologic mesh can be made from human, pig, sheep or cow tissue.  The newest meshes are made with a combination of synthetic and biologic material.

Safety

Mesh is safe when implanted properly. It has been around for almost half a century and has been implanted in millions of people without problems.

Choice of mesh

There are many factors that determine which mesh your hernia surgeon will use. Most hernia repairs utilize permanent synthetic meshes that are made with either polyester or polypropylene.

Surgery without mesh?

You developed a hernia because of weakened tissue. Just sewing the weakened tissue with sutures is usually not enough to prevent a future hernia, so mesh is needed to reinforce the repair.

Dissolving mesh

Dissolving mesh can be derived from biologic or synthetic sources.  There is no benefit in using these meshes in most situation.  A hernia specialist at the PATCH Institute will be able to guide you with the choices.

What is the evidence regarding mesh and chronic pain?

The best available evidence shows that using mesh for hernia repairs does not lead to increased chronic pain. However, using mesh decreases recurrences significantly compared to not using mesh. Below are 2 good quality studies in the surgical literature:

van Veen RN, Wijsmuller AR, et al. Randomized clinical trial of mesh versus non-mesh primary inguinal hernia repair: Long-term chronic pain at 10 years. Surgery, Volume 142, Issue 5, 695 – 698.

In this study 300 patients were randomized to open repair with mesh and open repair without mesh. This is the gold standard method of performing a comparison study in surgery. After the surgery, the patients were followed for a median of over 10 years. The patients whose repair did not utilize mesh had a 17% recurrence rate (i.e. 17% failed over 10 years). Patients whose repair utilized mesh had a 1% recurrence rate. The authors also found “that mesh repair of inguinal hernia is equal to non-mesh repair with respect to long-term persistent pain and discomfort interfering with daily activity.” In other words, patients who had mesh did not have more pain or discomfort than patients who didn’t have mesh repair. 

Scott N, Go PM, et al. Open Mesh versus non-Mesh for groin hernia repair. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2001, Issue 3.

This study is from Cochrane. It is a non-profit, non-government organization formed to organize medical research findings to facilitate evidence-based choices about health interventions faced by health professionals, patients, and policy makers. Cochrane includes 53 review groups that are based at research institutions worldwide. 

This review by Cochrane examines the evidence from studies comparing different types of open surgery for people with groin hernia. They included only randomized studies comparing methods using synthetic mesh versus methods without mesh. There were 20 studies comparing mesh with non-mesh repair analyzed in this study.

Based on their analysis, there was strong evidence that fewer hernias recur after mesh repair than following non-mesh repair. There was a suggestion that people had less persisting pain after mesh repair, but results were only available for nine out of 20 trials. Open mesh methods were shorter to perform than Shouldice procedures (an open non-mesh repair) but took longer than other types of non-mesh repair. They found no clear differences between mesh and non-mesh methods for operative complications and persisting numbness. Overall, people spent less time in hospital and returned to their usual activities quicker after mesh repair.

The leading minimally-invasive general and hernia repair surgeon on the West Coast, serving patients in the greater SF Bay Area. 

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