Skip to main content

Inguinal hernia repair (open)

Open inguinal hernia repair is recommended if you have a hernia that causes pain, severe or persistent symptoms, or any serious complications develop.

Your abdominal cavity contains your intestines and other structures.

These are protected by your abdominal wall, which is made up of four layers.

Weak spots can develop in the layer of muscle, resulting in the contents of your abdomen, along with the inner layer, pushing through your abdominal wall.

This produces a lump called a hernia. Furthermore, an inguinal hernia happens at the inguinal canal.

This is a narrow passage in which nerves and a ligament pass through your abdominal wall.

This procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic or a regional anaesthetic injected into the spine. 

You'll be awake during the surgery, but the area being operated on will be numbed, so you won't experience any pain.

In some cases, a general anaesthetic is used, which means you'll be asleep during the procedure.

Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon will make an incision over the hernia (usually 6 to 8cm long). Your surgeon will then place the lump of fatty tissue or loop of bowel back into your abdomen (tummy).

A mesh is placed in the abdominal wall, at the weak spot where the hernia came through, to strengthen it.

When the inguinal hernia repair is complete, your skin will be sealed with stitches. These usually dissolve on their own over the course of a few days after the operation.

If the hernia has become strangulated and part of the bowel is damaged, the affected segment may need to be removed and the 2 ends of healthy bowel rejoined.

This is a bigger operation, and you may need to spend a few days in hospital.

You should no longer have the hernia.

Surgery should prevent the serious complications that a hernia can cause and allow you to return to normal activities.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

A hernia usually does not go away without surgery.

Non-surgical approaches such as wearing a corset, binder, or truss may exert gentle pressure on the hernia and keep it in place.

These alternatives may ease your pain or discomfort, and can be used if you are not fit for the surgery or waiting to have surgery.

Like all surgical procedure, there are some levels of risks to consider. Some of these can be serious and can even cause death. However, you can speak to your doctor about the following general and specific complications that may worry you.

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring of your skin
  • Blood clot in your leg
  • Blood clot in your lung

Possible complications of hernia surgery

  • Developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or fluid (seroma) at the site of the original hernia
  • Continued discomfort or pain in your groin
  • For men, discomfort or pain in your testicle on the side of the operation
  • For men, difficulty passing urine
  • For men, damage to the blood supply of your testicle

You should be able to go home on the day of, or the day after, your operation. 

Most people are able to do light activities, such as shopping, after 1 or 2 weeks.

You should also be able to return to work after 1 or 2 weeks, although you may need more time off if your job involves manual labour.

Gentle exercise, such as walking, can help the healing process, but you should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities for about 4 to 6 weeks.

Speak to your consultant for advice about when you can drive.

Inguinal hernias have a number of symptoms which can be particularly uncomfortable as they are around the groin.

If left untreated, an incisional hernia can cause serious complications.

Book your appointment online, or find out more by calling us on 0808 101 0337.

Specialists offering Inguinal hernia repair (open)

Mr David Smith

Consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon


BMI The Beaumont Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Alistair Slesser

Consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon

MBBS, MRCS(Eng), MSc, MD(Res), FRCS(Gen.Surg)

BMI Bishops Wood Hospital 1 more BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Mark Peterson

Consultant Laparoscopic and HPB ( Liver Pancreas Biliary) Surgeon


BMI Thornbury Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Guy Finch

Consultant General & Gastrointestinal Surgeon


BMI Three Shires Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Gareth John Menzies Tervit

Consultant General & Vascular Surgeon


BMI Woodlands Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Kamran Qurashi

Consultant Laparoscopic GI & General Surgeon

MBBS, FRCSEd, FRCS(Gen.Surg),MSc(Surg.Sc)

BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital

View profile Book online

Find a specialist

General Enquiries