Overview of treatment options


The goal of surgery is to repair the weak tissue in your abdominal wall so that intestine and other tissue can't push through it again. Generally, the earlier the repair, the smaller the hernia, and the less trauma from surgery. Typically, a more rapid recovery is experienced with smaller hernias. Therefore, it may be beneficial to seek medical attention sooner rather than later.

Once your hernia has been successfully repaired and you have recovered from surgery, you will be able to return to your regular activities.

Click on a link below to review your surgical options:
Ventral (Abdominal) Hernia Repair Surgery
Inguinal (Groin) Hernia Repair Surgery

Ventral (Abdominal) Hernia Repair Surgery

Depending on the location and severity of your abdominal hernia, as well as your medical history, your doctor will recommend either open or laparoscopic surgery. Within each surgical option there are different hernia repair techniques. The following information will help you understand these hernia repair options.

Open Surgery

  • Your doctor makes an incision in your abdomen where the hernia is located.
  • Intestine or tissue inside the hernia sac is placed back into the abdominal cavity.
  • The hernia is repaired in one of two ways:
    • "Primary repair" - This repair involves sewing the abdominal wall tissues back together with sutures, such as GORE-TEX® Suture.
    • "Patch repair" - A patch, such as GORE® DUALMESH® PLUS Biomaterial, is placed so that it covers and overlaps the hernia defect. The patch is then attached. Over time, your body's tissue grows naturally into the patch to help it stay in place and add strength to the repair. GORE® DUALMESH® Biomaterials are designed to firmly attach to the tissue of your abdominal wall on one side, but not to intestines and vulnerable tissue on the other side. GORE® DUALMESH® PLUS Biomaterial is the first two-surface hernia repair product containing antimicrobial agents that inhibit microbial growth (called colonization) on the patch for up to 14 days following surgery. This feature may be helpful for patients, since it is reported that infections may be expected in about 10% of open ventral hernia repairs.*
  • The skin incision is closed with stitches, staples, surgical tape, or special glue.

    * Klinge U, Conze J, Krones CJ, Schumpelick V. Incisional hernia: open techniques. World Journal of Surgery 2005;29(9):1066-1072.

Laparoscopic Surgery

  • Your doctor makes several small incisions (usually three to six) in the abdominal wall surrounding the hernia.
  • Your abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas. Surgical instruments and a laparoscope (special camera) are inserted through the incisions into the abdomen.
  • Using the surgical instruments, a "patch repair" is performed. (See description in Open Surgery, above)
  • The gas is released and the skin incisions are closed.

Laparoscopic ventral hernia repair is typically performed under general anesthesia, and many are same-day procedures. Laparoscopic ventral hernia surgery offers potential benefits such as quicker recovery time, decreased pain, lower infection rate, reduced hernia recurrences, and fewer complications.

Whether you have open surgery or laparoscopic surgery, medical studies have shown that a patch repair is the most effective approach in the majority of ventral hernia cases.

Inguinal (Groin) Hernia Repair Surgery

Depending on the location and severity of your groin hernia, as well as your medical history, your doctor will recommend either open or laparoscopic surgery. Within each surgical option are different hernia repair techniques. The following information will help you understand these hernia repair options.

Open surgery

  • Your doctor makes an incision on the same side as the hernia, at an angle just above the crease where the abdomen meets the thigh. This can be done with local epidural or general anesthesia.
  • Intestine or other tissue inside the hernia sac is placed back into the abdominal cavity. The excess sac may be tied off or removed.
  • The hernia is repaired in one of three ways:
    • "Primary repair" - Also known as a "sutured repair", this repair involves sewing the abdominal wall tissues back together with sutures, such as GORE-TEX® Suture.
    • "Patch repair or tension free repair" - A patch is attached over the weak area around the hernia in front of the muscles. Over time, your body's tissue grows naturally into the patch to make a strong repair.
    • "Plug and patch repair" - A space-filling plug, such as the GORE® BIO-A® Hernia Plug, is placed inside the inguinal hernia to reinforce and support the weak tissue. A patch is then attached over the area. The GORE® BIO-A® Hernia Plug is the only hernia plug that is 100% bioabsorbable and is designed to reduce complications associated with permanent hernia plugs.
  • The skin incision is closed with stitches, staples, surgical tape, or special glue.

Laparoscopic surgery

  • Your doctor makes several small incisions (usually three to six) in the abdominal wall around the hernia.
  • Your abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas, surgical instruments and a laparoscope (special camera) are inserted through the incisions into the abdomen.
  • Surgical instruments are inserted through the incisions into the abdomen.
  • The hernia is repaired using a "patch repair" technique (See description in Open Surgery, above). In this repair, however, the patch is placed behind the muscles.
  • The gas is released and the skin incisions are closed.

Most laparoscopic surgeries are same-day procedures done under general anesthesia. Because only small incisions are required, laparoscopic surgery offers quicker recovery time, decreased pain, reduced recurrence of hernia, and fewer complications.

How can you prepare for surgery? See Preparing for surgery.

Preparing for Surgery

What to expect from your doctor

Before hernia repair surgery, your doctor will perform a medical evaluation. This typically includes the following:

  • Review your medical and surgical history.
  • Perform a physical exam.
  • Discuss medications, diet, and herbal supplements you are taking.
  • Perform lab tests, if needed, such as blood work and x-rays.
  • Perform additional testing, if needed, such as pulmonary or cardiac tests.

Your doctor will also talk with you about whether you are having open surgery or laparoscopic surgery, along with the benefits and risks of each.

How you can prepare

There are several things you will need to do to help make your surgery go more smoothly:

The week before surgery

  • You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, products that contain aspirin, or certain blood thinner medications. Some diet and herbal supplements must be stopped two weeks prior to surgery.
  • Check with your doctor about which medications can be taken the morning of surgery.
  • If you are a smoker, try to quit or reduce your smoking as much as possible.
  • Arrange for someone to take you to the hospital the day of surgery, and home afterwards.
  • You may want to arrange for someone to stay with you for a few days following surgery, especially if you are having open surgery.

The day before surgery

  • Your doctor may ask you to drink a laxative to cleanse your intestines.
  • Your doctor may tell you not to eat after a certain time, and to drink only clear liquids until midnight before the surgery.
  • Pack an overnight bag if you are staying in the hospital. Leave valuables such as rings and watches at home.
  • Wear loose clothing to go home and for several days thereafter.

What to expect after surgery

When you return home after hernia surgery, it will take several days to recover from laparoscopic surgery and possibly longer if you have had open surgery. Below are ways you can help yourself feel better and get back to your normal routine.

  • Reduce swelling around the surgical incision using an ice pack 3 to 5 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Take the pain medication your doctor prescribed on time and as directed.
  • Resume showers or baths when your doctor advises you to, usually a day or so after surgery.
  • Take frequent short walks as soon as you can to improve circulation and minimize the risk of blood clots in your legs.
  • Avoid heavy lifting for a minimum of a week. Your surgeon will discuss the special recommendations for you.
  • See your doctor for a follow-up appointment 1-3 weeks after surgery.
  • Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
  • Ask your doctor about returning to work.

When to call your doctor

It's important to call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms during your recovery:

  • Fever of 101°F/38°C or higher
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Increased redness or drainage from your incisions
  • Pain that does not ease with medication
  • Bleeding
  • Excessive bruising or swelling (some bruising and swelling is normal)

This website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Only a physician or other qualified health provider can diagnose and treat a hernia.