Hernia anyone?

My 49 yo body seems to enjoy finding ways to screw with me. First it was a bad knee. Then tendonitis in both elbows. Then pre-arthritic neck pain, then sciatica. Lots of visits to the physiotherapist. And now this…

Friday evening, I noticed that the left side of my groin felt numb and thought, hmm, that’s odd. So I went into the bathroom and had a look, and saw that the left side was also noticeably swollen. The numbness has pretty much gone away, and the swelling comes and goes. And there is no pain and very little discomfort. I googled it and it seems that the most likely culprit is an inguinal hernia. Oh yippee!

I am working up my courage to go to the doc, as I don’t relish the prodding in that area and relish even less the likely course of treatment.

So while I try to grow a pair of balls, I figure I would ask here about others’ experiences with hernias. How bad did it get? Did you have surgery? How bad was that? Any advice?

About 16 years ago, when my wife was pregnant with our son, I suddenly noticed that my bellybutton was crooked. It felt slightly hard, but other than that, it was completely painless. I made a joke to my wife about having a sympathetic pregnancy, and ignored it.

Eight years later, I decided that despite the fact that I liked having a distinctive naval, maybe I should do something about it. I saw a doctor, who referred me to a surgeon, who said, “That’s a hernia. Right now, it’s fine, but when it gets bad it’ll get bad fast. Want me to fix it for you?” A month later, I went into surgery. He straightened it out and put in some mesh, leaving a couple of small scars. I spent the night in the hospital, rested at home for the following week, and then I was more or less fine. It hasn’t bothered me since.

Oddly enough, I underwent inguinal surgery on July 24th. I’m recovering nicely so far, but it’ll be about a month or so before I resume normal physical activity. Here is my experience with an inguinal hernia:

A few years ago my doctor noticed that I had a little bit of a hernia during a routine physical checkup. He didn’t seem too concerned about it and suggested that surgery might be needed in the future to fix it up. I was okay with that, so I didn’t really think too much about it.

A few years later I noticed that I could see a visible bulge in my lower-left abdomen which would persist until I pushed it back into place. No pain or discomfort, so I wasn’t too concerned.

Over the past few months this worsened a bit so that I had to use some effort to push the hernia back into place. I still didn’t have any real discomfort aside from some chafing and the knowledge that I was probably going to need some surgery. Because I’m on a high-deductible insurance plan, I wasn’t ready to shell out for a big copay in order to get it fixed.

Fast-forward to about 3 months ago. After being told that my job would probably dry up before the year is out, I decided to pull the trigger and have my new physician order a consult with a surgeon to see what could be done. The surgeon took a quick look at my distended abdomen and gave it some gentle prodding and said that I really needed to get the hernia fixed before blood flow was cut off and cause a potentially life-threatening situation. I was able to get scheduled for laparoscopic surgery on July 24th.

I went in for surgery as scheduled. During the pre-op prep, the nurse that shaved my stomach said that my hernia was definitely in the top 5 worst hernias that he had seen this year – not a ranking that I really wanted to appear in. They hooked me up to an IV and about an hour later I was wheeled into surgery. After that it was lights out for about an hour.

I came out from under anesthesia without incident and only had some minor discomfort. During the operation they intubated me and put in a catheter, both of which were removed before I woke back up. Ordinarily I would have been released about an hour or two later, but apparently I hadn’t hydrated enough before the operation and was unable to pee no matter how hard I tried. I ended up having another catheter put in temporarily to make sure that my bladder was filling normally. The pain of having that catheter put in and removed was by far the worst part of the whole procedure, and it was extremely painful when I tried to pee for a couple of days afterwards.

Anyway, after my tank was emptied so to speak, my wife came to pick me up at the hospital and I walked into the pharmacy to pick up pain medication (Percoset). Over the next 36 hours or so, I only took half the prescribed dosage of pain medicine and probably only used 3-4 pills in total. I took Tylenol for about 4 days afterwards to take the edge off of the abdominal soreness, but otherwise felt okay. I actually went into work 4 days after surgery and have managed pretty well. This week I feel pretty darn good, although it may take a few months before swelling fully disappears in my abdomen and groin. In n the meantime I try to walk around a bit and will even try to push mow my lawn a bit this evening. I’ll be seeing my surgeon for a post-op follow-up visit on the 17th, so I’m hoping to get a good report from him.

Sorry for writing a novella about this. Long story-short: if you’ve got insurance and your hernia is still in its early stages of development, get it taken care of. Laparoscopic or robotic surgical procedures reduce the amount of pain and recovery time and will give you a better quality of life afterwards. This is one of the more common types of surgery, and is almost always done on an outpatient basis. If things go right you will usually be in and out of the hospital or surgical center within 4 hours or so.

My recommendation? Get it taken care of sooner rather than later. Hernias don’t fix themselves.

Hernia anyone?

No, thank you.


I had an inguinal hernia repair in 1996 that was done laparoscopically with Kevlar mesh. Unfortunately, it became infected and I was vomiting uncontrollably with a high fever about 4 days after the surgery and I disrupted some of the internal stitches for the mesh and I had some discomfort for a good 10 years after. Not enough to have them go back in, but annoying. I don’t believe the use the mesh anymore.

It’s been 12 or 14 years maybe since I had hernia surgery. I still have the mesh in me. Recovery time was a few weeks until I was comfortably mobile again and prolly about 8 weeks until I was able to lift more than a gallon of milk safely.

No problems since then at all.

Five years ago for me. I have a large incision across my waistline, but no complications. Started with what I considered a ‘groin strain.’ But it didn’t go away. After about a month I noticed the slight bulge, and I thought “Oh, crap, I think I know what this is.”

Went immediately to the doctor’s office, who said “Looks like a hernia. We’ll schedule yFive years ago for me. I have a large incision across my waistline, but no complications. Started with what I considered a ‘groin strain.’ But it didn’t go away. After about a month I noticed the slight bulge, and I thought “Oh, crap, I think I know what this is.”

Went immediately to the doctor’s office, who said “Looks like a hernia. We’ll schedule you for a surgical consultation.”

I didn’t have any noteworthy issues, other than the pain medication. I’m assuming it was an opiod, because I did have some constipative side effects.

No issues since then. Apparently a rite of passage in my family as almost all the male members have had hernia surgeries at about the same age.
ou for a surgical consultation.”

I didn’t have any noteworthy issues, other than the pain medication. I’m assuming it was an opiod, because I did have some constipative side effects.

No issues since then. Apparently a rite of passage in my family as almost all the male members have had hernia surgeries at about the same age.

I had hernia surgery early in 2019. I noticed a lump just below my belly and talked to a doctor and we soon scheduled surgery. No pain. I think it happened after a particularly hard fit of coughing.

The operation was simple. I had to wash the area for antiseptic soap, then we went to the hospital. I met the doctor, they started the anesthetic and the next thing I knew I was waking up.

Post op was painful the first 24 hours once the anesthetic completely wore off. I couldn’t sleep on my right side and, as the painkillers wore off, it was painful when I lay down or moved (It was OK if I sat up). They gave me oxycontin, which probably helped, but the side effect – constipation – was awful. I had the operation on Friday and stopped taking oxycontin Sunday night, sticking to acetaminophen (Tylenol). I stayed home Monday and Tuesday, but had no problem going in to work on Wednesday.

After that, it was just a case of not lifting heavy objects. They started with a 10-pound limit (the weight of a milk jug) and gradually increased it each time the surgeon checked things.

It was laparoscopic surgery, so there was only a small, two-inch incision and scar. I’ve been fine ever since.

I had outpatient inguinal surgery about 7 years ago and have no reservations over my decision. The procedure was straightforward with no pain or complications.

[Raises hand] Meeting the surgeon this week to schedule mine. Was feeling pain and a lot of “wrongness” down there, especially if lifting anything. The normal physical examination turned up nothing, but I insisted something was amiss. After a variety of imaging stuff, the medical folks announced yep, double hernia, not very large yet, and we could operate or wait. Since we’ve reached the bittersweet milestone of using all our deductible this year, I chose sooner.

I’m guessing the procedure will happen in the next couple of weeks. Thanks to Earl and Reality for the detailed descriptions. If this thread’s still showing after the procedure, I’ll tell my tale too.

My first one was 35 years ago, I carried it around a couple years. I was in hospital 4-5 days, and off work about a week.

Now the good news. In 2015, a doutble inguinal. I put it off maybe 6 months, then got it done, at age 75. Sent home from the hospital the next morning, resumed most normal activity the next day, except lifting. There was nopain to speak of. Looks like they’ve got it figured out.

I’ve had an umbilical hernia for about 15 years. It doesn’t bother me, and I haven’t seen a doctor about it.

One of my aunts once announced to everyone that she had a “hyena hernia”.

And that’s nothing to laugh at!

(Ba-dump bum!)

Thanks everyone. I just called my GP and made an appointment to be poked and prodded.

A few more questions:

  1. is there any chance this thing might heal on its own? I kind of doubt it, but a guy can hope can’t he?

  2. is it normal to have physio afterward the surgery?

  3. my boss had a hernia a few years ago (I don’t really know the details) and it seemed that he had to take it easy for many months afterwards, i.e. no proper exercise and he had to wear some sort of girdle. Is that common?

  4. since a hernia involves the intestine, will there be any dietary implications or problems with digestion/evacuation?


My hernia experience goes almost 50 years back, I was a child back then, barely more than a toddler. Recovery was good, it has surely improved since. Concerning your questions in #14:

  1. No chance, forget it.
  2. If you wish, why not? Some people like physio. Should not be necessary, but physio does not do any harm.
  3. Does not sound common to me, but a boss is a boss. Hernia is not a bad excuse to take things easy if you so desire.
  4. No. Not operating a hernia may cause problems with the intestine, particularly it may get compressed, strangled, gangrenous and necrotic (this is a very worst case scenario, really extreme: please ignore it if you have a tendency to hypochondria :face_with_thermometer: ). An operation would eliminate those risks.

Bear in mind that I’m still in the surgical recovery phase, but here are my answers to your questions:

  1. Hernias won’t heal on their won, unfortunately. Even if you wear a truss and avoid doing heavy lifting, it’ll still be there. Sorry…

  2. No physical therapy needed afterwards.

  3. My post-op guide says that, provided that you’re healed up properly, you should be able to resume normal physical activities about six weeks after surgery. No heavy lifting during the recovery period, though, but walking, climbing stairs, mowing grass is okay. It’s okay to have sex, too, but some of the swelling you have after surgery may make this a little tricky.

  4. It’s not unusual to have some constipation for several days after surgery due to the anesthetic and whatever painkillers you may take. I was given some stool softeners to help things along, but luckily I didn’t stay backed-up for very long. No dietary changes were suggested post-surgery, but I made sure to take antacids before bedtime to avoid triggering my acid reflux during sleep. I didn’t want to take any chances on having to leap out of bed to rush to the bathroom to vomit.

I’ve had an umbilical hernia for about five years now. I showed it to my primary care doctor a couple of times, and she seemed totally unconcerned about it. She did show me how to reduce it if necessary (like if I started getting severe pain).

Then I started getting an occasional dull pain in the area, so she gave me a surgical consult. That was August 2019. The surgeon wanted me to lose some weight first, so he scheduled a followup appointment after ski season (when I usually lose 10-15 pounds anyway). That was April 2020, and we were experiencing in the worst of the pandemic here in Connecticut, with all elective surgeries postponed. So I scheduled a follow up for August, and saw the doctor yesterday.

…And he wants me to lose some weight again (since I gained it all back over the summer, which was not at all helped by the pandemic), so we’ve scheduled a followup appointment after ski season. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I’ve had an umbilical hernia for probably close to 20 years now. I’m under no illusions about the fact that it eventually has to be dealt with, as it’s slowly getting larger, but there are always seems to be a reason to postpone it (mostly, a rationalization for being chicken-shit about surgery). I did at one point go to a consultation at the Shouldice Hospital, which is close by here and apparently one of the top places in the world for hernia repair. They are one of the few for-profit hospitals around (although UHC will pay for it if you’re a Canadian resident). You get to be an in-patient for some number of days, which includes a post-op program of exercise, physio, and whatever else they do.

And, just like your surgeon, they wanted me to lose a bit of weight first. I cynically attributed that to a commercial interest in making the surgery simple and having the highest possible success rate. I did make an effort, but progress was so slow that I lost interest, so my status remains unchanged.

Updating my own comment above, saw the surgeon last week. He says far too much scarring and tissue damage in the abdominal area from old wounds, scars, etc. (long story) Upshot is it can’t be done laparoscopic (-ly) and must be the old way.

And… due to this and other reasons, it’ll be two separate surgeries spaced a month apart. He said to expect at least 4 weeks of serious limitations (lifting, traveling) after each, so I’m out of commission for 8 weeks minimum. 'Rona was probably going to cancel our vacation anyway, so I guess this is a good time.

Doesn’t happen.

I didn’t need to do anything special. I just visited the doctor a few time to check it was healing.

The only restrictions were on how much I could lift. I was restricted to ten pounds or less for the first couple of weeks (as a guide, nothing heavier than a gallon container of milk). That increased each time the doctor checked, so it went to 25 pounds, then 50, then no restrictions. Other than lifting, I could do whatever I wanted. No girdle.

None. The only problems with digestion would be if you didn’t get it fixed and it got strangulated.