Undergoing any type of surgery can be unsettling. Although Dr. Nirav Naik, our hernia specialist at New Life Medical in Bakersfield, California, performs hernia surgery almost daily, this may be your first time undergoing the procedure. And if you’re like most people, the unknowns of surgery make you a bit nervous.
We get it, and we have the solution: information.
The more you know what to expect before, during, and after hernia surgery, the more your anxiety level drops and your comfort level rises. Here’s the 411 on hernia surgery.
Hernia repair basics
A hernia occurs when your internal organs slip past weak spots in the surrounding wall of muscle and tissue. It can happen in your groin (inguinal), belly button (umbilical), or diaphragm (hiatal), or it can occur near a surgical site (incisional).
To repair the damage, Dr. Naik uses a minimally invasive technique called laparoscopy to view the scene inside your body with a tiny camera and make necessary cuts and repairs. He may use surgical mesh to “patch” the area and add extra support to your abdominal wall.
Prepping for hernia surgery
Dr. Naik and our staff talk with you at length about what to expect during surgery, and we’re highlighting that information here, but feel free to ask questions along the way if you’re unclear about the procedure. In the days leading up to your hernia surgery:
- Tell Dr. Naik about all medications and supplements you take
- Stop taking NSAIDs and blood thinners about a week before surgery
- Tell us if you have a bleeding disorder or other medical condition
- Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery
- Don’t smoke
Smoking hinders your recovery, so the longer you go without lighting up, the quicker you’ll heal.
Hernia surgery day
When you arrive for your hernia surgery, we do everything we can to make you comfortable. We understand that you may still have questions and concerns, and we’re eager to address them all and put you at ease.
Once you’ve changed into a gown, we place an IV in your arm to administer general anesthesia. You sleep peacefully through the surgery, which typically lasts only about 30 minutes for laparoscopy procedures.
After Dr. Naik closes your 3-4 small incisions, we wheel you to the recovery room, where you rest until the anesthesia wears off. You won't feel any pain until the anesthesia is completely out of your system, and you can expect to feel a bit groggy for the rest of the day.
We give you detailed post-operative care instructions and send you home to rest. Make sure you have a friend or family member available to drive you home.
What to expect after your hernia surgery
After laparoscopic hernia surgery, you go home on the same day, but if you require open surgery, you may need to stay overnight.
Most of our patients report some discomfort for a couple of days after surgery, but over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications provide adequate relief. If you need something stronger, Dr. Naik can write a prescription.
We recommend a liquid diet after your surgery. Dr. Naik lets you know when you can switch to soft foods and then transition back to your regular mealtime routine.
It’s best to take it easy for the first two to three days after surgery to help your body recover. You can walk around your house and perform minor tasks, but don’t do any strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for at least a week. Dr. Naik gives you specific instructions and recovery timelines based on your circumstances.
You’ll likely be back to work, driving, and running errands after about a week, but avoid lifting, pushing, and pulling activities until Dr. Naik gives you the green light.
Because untreated hernias can worsen and become inflamed or infected, hernia surgery is often the best treatment. If you have questions we didn’t answer here, call us at 661-230-7344.