A hernia is a small bulge in your abdomen, thigh, or groin that occurs when an organ pushes through an weak spot in the surrounding muscle or tissue. Hernias don’t always require immediate surgery, but they will not go away on their own. Your doctor will probably recommend hernia repair surgery if your hernia is getting bigger or causing you pain.
Following your hernia repair surgery, your actions will play a big role in the speed and comfort of your recovery. Your physician will give you specific recommendations about when you can start exercising and walking after open hernia repair.
Rehabilitation after hernia repair typically includes walking, gentle stretching, and core strengthening exercises. Trying to push yourself to do too much, too fast, can disrupt the healing process and even cause the hernia to return. On the other hand, not enough physical activity can lengthen your recovery time.
Below, you’ll learn what to expect in the days and weeks following your hernia repair.
When can I go home after hernia repair surgery?
After your hernia repair surgery, you will be discharged as soon as you’re awake and able to walk around on your own. You’ll probably get to go home the same day as the surgery, but you’ll need someone to drive you home after the procedure. The rest of the day should be spent resting and drinking plenty of fluids.
When can I start walking after open hernia repair?
Resting after surgery is important, but walking after open hernia repair is actually recommended. In the days following your surgery, you can start walking around as soon as you are able. Staying in bed may seem like the more comfortable choice, but getting up and taking a few short walks throughout the day will help you heal faster.
As the days pass and you start to feel stronger, you should start to walk around even more. The increased physical activity will help increase your circulation and blood flow, decrease swelling around the wound, and help the damaged tissue and muscles heal faster. Just make sure to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard.
After a few days of walking around the house, you can start walking outside, as long as you have a level area to do so. During the first couple weeks, you should only walk for as long as you can without straining yourself. (Your muscles may still be a little unsteady after your surgery. ) Try to bring a friend or family member with you on any outside walks, in case you need help.
An added benefit of walking after open hernia repair is that it can help relieve any post-surgery constipation. Constipation is a normal side effect of any surgery that requires anesthesia–your first bowel movement might not happen until a few days after your hernia repair. However, it’s important to avoid straining yourself after your procedure, even to go to the restroom. Your doctor can give you advice on how to make bowel movements easier after your hernia repair.
When can I exercise after open hernia repair?
You can start exercising with caution about three weeks after your hernia repair surgery. In fact, your doctor will probably recommend it to help you heal faster. During this time, you can start light resistance training for your core muscles. Talk to your doctor about which exercises will be best for your specific situation. Avoid repetitive movements and exercises that put a heavy strain on your abdominal muscles. If your incision has healed, you can try swimming at this time.
By week three, you should also be able to return to work if you haven’t already. However, you’ll still need to avoid heavy lifting for at least another couple of weeks.
You can start light jogging about a month after your surgery, but you’ll still need to be careful not to put too much strain on your abdominal muscles. Avoid uneven terrain and long-distance running for another couple of weeks.
By six weeks after your hernia surgery, you should be back to your normal activity levels. You can resume non-impact activities and sports, such as biking, baseball, and tennis. Contact sports and strenuous core strengthening exercises should be avoided until twelve weeks after surgery. Your doctor will give you more specific guidelines on when you can exercise without restriction.
Need help paying for your hernia repair surgery?
Take care to follow your physician’s recommendations during each stage of your recovery after your hernia repair. Avoid movements that cause discomfort and strain around your incision. If you have any questions about your hernia repair surgery, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or get a second opinion. To get a better idea of what you should pay for your hernia surgery, head over to our post on hernia surgery cost averages in the U.S.
To learn more about discounts and financing opportunities for your hernia repair, contact us on our Hernia Repair Patient Assist page.
Reviewed and updated 12/21/2022.