Recovery after inguinal hernia repair

Inguinal hernia repair

After surgery to repair your inguinal hernia, you will be moved to the recovery area where a nurse will monitor your blood pressure, temperature and heart rate. These are called observations.

A doctor or nurse will tell you when you are well enough to be discharged.

A responsible adult must escort you from hospital and stay with you for 24 hours after the surgery.

Recovery at home

If you had a general anaesthetic you might feel dizzy and tired. It will take 24 to 48 hours for the general anaesthetic to wear off.

You do not need to stay in bed but we recommend that you get plenty of rest. Gently moving around your home will help your blood circulation and help to prevent blood clots.

If you had a local anaesthetic you might feel some discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off. Please take your pain relief medication as recommended.


Try not to smoke for 2 weeks after your surgery.

Please read more about how we can help you to stop smoking. Or call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 0169.


You will be given medicine to help with pain relief during and after your surgery. We will make sure any pain is at a level that you can tolerate and manage at home. Any medicines given to you will be explained before you leave the hospital.

It is important to take your pain relief medicine on a regular basis for the first few days. You can control your pain and discomfort better when you take your pain relief regularly.

After a few days, you can gradually reduce the medicine until you do not need it any longer.

Make sure you read the label and do not exceed the recommended daily dose of any medicine you are given.

Contact us if you have any queries or if you find the pain difficult to control.

Some painkillers can cause constipation.

Looking after your wound

You might have some swelling and bruising around your wound site. This is not unusual and is no cause for concern.

If you notice any bleeding from the wound, press firmly on the area with a clean cloth or towel for 10 minutes. If the bleeding does not stop, please contact us immediately

Sometimes a bulky dressing is used to reduce the risk of bleeding. This can be removed the day after your surgery.

The wounds are closed with dissolvable stitches and we usually use a special skin glue on top of the wound which does not need an additional dressing.

  • You can shower or bathe after 24 hours and gently pat the wounds dry.
  • Do not pick at the glue as it will gently flake off after 10 to 14 days.

If dressings are used, they are usually splash-proof, and you can carefully wash or shower. Make sure you keep this dressing dry and remove and replace the dressings if they become soaked. Underneath the dressing there may be paper strips. You can remove all dressings and strips a week after your surgery.

You may notice tingling, numbness and itching of the wound, and a hard lumpy feeling as the new scar tissues form. This is normal healing.

Getting back to everyday activities

After 1 week, you should feel more comfortable and be able to walk short distances and do light activities.

Do not do any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for 2 to 3 weeks. This will help with healing and prevent the hernia from returning.

Avoid driving until you are free of pain and feel comfortable to carry out an emergency stop quickly and safely. This is usually within 1 to 2 weeks. Check with your insurance company to make sure you are covered to start driving again.

Returning to work

You should be able to return to work after 1 to 2 weeks, although you may need more time off if your job involves manual labour. You can get a fit note before you leave hospital, if you need one.

Contact us if you have:

  • a raised temperature (over 38°C)
  • persistent bleeding or discharge from the wound
  • excessive pain or swelling in your tummy (abdomen)
  • persistent nausea or vomiting (feel sick or being sick)
  • redness, swelling and pain at your wound sites
  • difficulty having a wee

Call 111 or go to your nearest emergency department (A&E) if you think it is an emergency.

Useful information

British Hernia Society provides a wide range of information. 

Resource number: 5334
Published date: December 2022
Review date: December 2025  

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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