Open incisional hernia repair

What causes a hernia?

Any operation on the abdomen needs a cut that is closed with stitches. Sometimes the wound does not heal properly, resulting in the contents of the abdomen pushing through. This produces a lump called a hernia (see figure 1).

Open incisional hernia repair 

A hernia can be dangerous because the intestines or other structures within the abdomen can get trapped and have their blood supply cut off (strangulated hernia).

What are the benefits of an open incisional hernia repair?

You should no longer have the hernia. Surgery should prevent you from having any serious complications.

Are there any alternatives to this surgery?

You can sometimes control the hernia with supportive clothing or simply leave it alone. It will not go away without an operation.

What does the operation involve?

A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible. The operation usually takes about an hour and a half.

Your surgeon will make a cut through your old scar and repair the weak tissue either with stitches or using a synthetic mesh, which is stitched to the muscles.

What complications can happen?

General complications of any operation:

  • Pain
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Bleeding
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots

Specific complications of this operation:

  • Developing a lump under the wound
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Skin necrosis
  • Injury to structures within the hernia
  • Injury to nerves

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after one to four days.

You should increase how much you walk around over the first few days after your operation.

Your doctor will tell you when you can return to work depending on the extent of surgery and your type of work.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Occasionally the hernia comes back.


An incisional hernia is a weakness in the abdominal wall which happens when previous wounds do not heal properly. If left untreated, an incisional hernia can occasionally cause serious complications.

Paying for your procedure

Open incisional hernia repair costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own procedure the cost will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the procedure. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.


Author: Mr Simon Parsons DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.)

Copyright 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. This information is produced by EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by BMI Healthcare. You may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information other than for your personal, non-commercial use. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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