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What Should I Do after Umbilical Hernia Surgery?

Spending time in the hospital may be necessary following umbilical hernia surgery.
Severe pain following umbilical hernia surgery should be discussed with your doctor, but mild discomfort is common.
Surgical wounds are often covered with gauze.
A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2014
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After umbilical hernia surgery, you will be given instructions involving proper incision care as well as any activity restrictions that may be recommended by the surgeon. Depending on the type of procedure performed to repair the hernia, you may be able to go home the same day as the surgery, although in some cases, a few days may need to be spent in a hospital. When post-operative instructions are followed and no complications develop, a complete recovery is possible in just a few weeks. Any questions or concerns that you have about individual care instructions should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Immediately after umbilical hernia surgery, you'll be moved to a recovery room. While in this area, the medical staff will carefully monitor your blood pressure and other vital signs to make sure there are no complications following the procedure. Once you're awake and deemed medially stable, you'll be transferred to a regular room. If the surgery was performed as an outpatient procedure, you may be discharged a few hours after the operation.

Many medical professionals recommend bed rest for a couple of days after surgery. Once you begin to feel a little better, you'll be able to begin moving around and performing light physical activity. No strenuous activities, lifting, or exercise should be done until given permission, as this could cause significant health concerns and complications.

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Proper incision care is extremely important in order to prevent infection. Any unnecessary activity could rupture the sutures and cause bleeding, sometimes requiring additional surgery. The surgical wound should be kept dry and covered with a bandage or gauze. Mild bleeding or oozing is considered normal, and the bandages may have to be changed periodically for the first couple days or so. Some medical professionals allow the patient to remove the bandages after about three days, although others prefer to remove the bandages at the follow-up visit.

Any complications that develop after surgery should be reported to your doctor for further medical evaluation. Mild discomfort is to be expected, but any severe pain should be reported. Excessive bleeding or swelling of the incision site may indicate possible complications. In most cases, the healing process is rather uneventful, and you should be able to return to all normal activities within a few weeks of the procedure.

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Discuss this Article

anon328452
Post 5

I just had Hernia surgery done and I think I ruptured it already. How do I know if it's ruptured, and when will they fix it again if I did? Please help. I am concerned. I have two small kids who need me.

anon318696
Post 4

My biggest uncertainty when told not to do any heavy lifting shortly after the surgery was what they meant by "heavy"?

I just got the stitches removed today (seven days). I started moving stuff around back at home (minor items near the bed at least to tidy up that area). Unfortunately I turned the mattress around as well, since that area was really messy. My wound site has felt comfortable since them, though.

Later that day, I learned through a pediatrician who knows about cesareans that, for those cases (applies well for umbilical hernia), they normally tell patients not to lift items or anything above 3-4 kg for at least three or four weeks.

Hope this helps others since I only found out afterward.

ddljohn
Post 3

I had my surgery 10 days ago and was back home the day after. I'm still very sore around my stomach and swollen as well. I can't sit comfortably and laying down in some positions hurts as well. I feel the best standing up, but can't walk for a very long time either.

What's the best position during umbilical hernia repair recovery? Should I lay down during the day? Sideways or on my back?

I'm scared of moving too much and damaging my stitches but I feel very sore when I don't move at all. I've been applying some ice to help with the swelling but is there anything else I can do?

burcinc
Post 2

@turquoise-- That's a really important point. Many athletes, especially competitive body-builders and people who lift heavy things at their job get umbilical hernia (also called "belly button hernia"). And most of the time, they can't wait to get back to the gym after surgery. Especially, if they're competing, it's a loss of training time. So people rush back and do much more than they should.

I understand their point of view, but I also think that it's not a good idea. Not just because of complications, like the one you had, but because people who lift weights regularly are at a higher risk for umbilical hernia in general. So the chances of getting it again is high, especially if you don't let it heal properly.

turquoise
Post 1

I had umbilical hernia repair twice last year. After the first surgery, I made the mistake of going back to exercising too soon. My friend had had the same surgery and told me she was up and running at week four. I thought I could do the same and ended up rupturing my incision area. So I had to go back for another surgery.

Don't make the same mistake as me. Everyone has varying recovery times and progress levels. Doctors generally say that it takes about 12 weeks or so for complete recovery.

So my suggestion to anyone having this surgery is to take it easy and not push yourself for a good three months. It's much better to be safe than sorry. Believe me, hernia surgery allows you to get back to your normal activity, but it needs time and patience in the beginning. Once the recovery is complete, you can go back to exercising. It's not like you'll never be able to exercise again.

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