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Open inguinal hernia surgery

Inguinal hernia repair surgery is recommended if you have a hernia that causes pain, severe or persistent symptoms, or serious complications

Surgeon prepares the mesh needed for open inguinal hernia surgery
Hernias happen when an internal part of your body pushes through a weakness in its surrounding muscle or tissue wall.

An inguinal hernia usually happens when fatty tissue or a part of your bowel, such as your small intestine, pokes through into your groin at the top of your inner thigh. It is the most common type of hernia, and mainly affects men.

Inguinal hernias can occur naturally over time as you age and the muscles surrounding your tummy (abdominal muscles) become weaker, or when you put too much pressure on your tummy. For example, if you cough or sneeze too hard.

Is open inguinal surgery right for you?

Inguinal hernias can cause persistent pain and swelling around your tummy and groin area, which can be treated with hernia repair surgery. Hernias do not go away without surgery, but some people can delay having it for years by managing their symptoms with lifestyle changes and medication.

If you have severe pain caused by an inguinal hernia, or if your hernia is interfering with your ability to perform everyday tasks and live an active, fulfilled lifestyle, you might benefit from inguinal repair surgery. This is an operation to repair the weakness in the abdominal wall and move your organs back into place. 

There are two main techniques used to perform inguinal repair surgery. These are:

Open surgery

This is where your consultant uses a cut in your tummy to access your hernia, and pushes the lump from your groin back into its original position.

Keyhole surgery

This is where your consultant accesses your hernia using very small cuts (incisions), inserting a thin tube with a camera and light attached to the end of it (a laparoscope) as well as specially designed small surgical tools to perform the procedure. The laparoscope is attached to a monitor that displays images from inside your tummy, so that your surgeon can see what they are doing. This type of surgery is less invasive, but it is a more difficult technique.

Both types of surgery can treat an inguinal hernia effectively and stop your difficult symptoms. Your consultant will decide which is best for you based on your individual circumstances. On this page, we focus on key information about open inguinal repair surgery, including what happens during the procedure and the typical open hernia surgery recovery timeline. We also have a page on keyhole surgery for inguinal hernia repair.

The cost of inguinal hernia surgery starts from around £2,950.*

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant’s outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your treatment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over 10 months to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

If you have private health insurance, hernia surgery will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

*This is a guide price for patients who are paying for their own treatment. The actual cost of your treatment will be confirmed in writing at the time of booking.

If you have an inguinal hernia, you might experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • A bulge in the area on either side of your pubic bone
  • A burning or aching sensation around the bulge
  • Pain and swelling in your groin
  • Pain and swelling in your tummy
  • Severe pain when straining your tummy, such as when you cough or sneeze
  • A bulge that becomes bigger when you strain and disappears when you lie down

If you have any of these symptoms, you should speak with your doctor. They will be able to determine whether you have an inguinal hernia, and advise you about what kind of treatment you might need.

You can usually see a specialist for your initial consultation within 48 hours of booking your appointment with us. Give us a call on 0141 300 5009 and we'll help you find an appointment time that suits you.

During your initial appointment, your consultant will ask about your general health and medical history. They will want to know about any existing medical conditions you have, as well as the current symptoms you are experiencing. They'll ask you how these symptoms impact your everyday life, how often they occur, and whether you have had any treatment for them yet.

In order to assess your symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis, your consultant will carry out a gentle physical examination of your tummy. During this exam, they will look and feel for a bulge in your groin or scrotal area. You might be asked to stand and cough to make the hernia appear. Your consultant will then be able to advise whether you need surgery to treat the hernia, or if you would benefit more from medication 

Your initial consultation is an important and positive step in your journey toward better health. To make the most of this first meeting with your consultant, you should feel free to talk as openly and honestly as you like about the pain and other symptoms you're experiencing, the way they make you feel, and what you're hoping to get from surgery. 

How long will I wait to have surgery?

The time you'll wait between your initial consultation and surgery will differ from person to person, but the process should move along quickly. Your consultant will share a good idea of timelines during your initial consultation, after which they'll put together a fixed-price treatment package based on everything you have discussed together. After you know the costs, we can get you booked in to have your surgery at a time that suits you.

You might be asked to avoid food and drink for up to 12 hours before having open hernia surgery. If you're taking blood-thinning medication, you might be asked to stop taking it for a few days before having the procedure. This is to prevent excessive bleeding during the operation. You might also be advised to stop smoking (if applicable) during the lead-up to having surgery.

Your healthcare team will ensure you know exactly how to prepare for open hernia repair surgery, so there won't be any surprises along the way. If you do need to stop smoking for a short period before surgery, they will offer advice and support on how best to do this.  

Your consultant will begin the operation by making a long incision over the area of the hernia. They will then gently push the lump of fatty tissue (hernia) back into the correct position in your tummy.

Next, they will place mesh (a medical device that supports damaged tissue around a hernia as it heals) over the weakened part of your abdominal wall to support and strengthen the weak spot where your hernia has pushed through. The mesh will be attached with stitches, surgical staples, or specialist glue.

Open inguinal hernia repair is usually carried out under local anaesthetic or a regional anaesthetic injected into your spine to numb your lower body. This means you will be awake during the procedure, but you won't feel anything.

The procedure usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes. It is typically performed by a general surgeon. General surgeons perform a variety of minor and major procedures, and are highly experienced in surgery for all kinds of hernias. 

How long will I have to stay in hospital?

You should be able to return home from hospital on the same day you have surgery. You should arrange for someone to collect you from hospital, because you won't be able to drive until the anaesthesia wears off. We can arrange for a taxi to collect you, if needed.

Recovering at home

You will likely experience pain and tiredness for a few days following surgery, but this can be managed with traditional painkillers.

It is normal to have bruising where your hernia was, and sometimes around your genitals while you recover.

Your consultant will provide your tailored advice on how to recover safely at home, including how to wash your wound, when to rest, and how to eat properly to avoid constipation.

You can usually shower between 24 and 48 hours after surgery.

2-6 weeks after surgery

You can return to light activities, such as swimming and gentle walking, after two weeks.

You should avoid strenuous activities, such as heavy lifting, for around three to four weeks.

Most people return to work after two weeks and make a full recovery from open inguinal hernia repair within six weeks.

Like all surgical procedures, there are some levels of risks to consider when having open inguinal hernia repair surgery. You can speak to your doctor for more information about the following complications:

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

We answer your most frequently asked questions about inguinal hernias.

What is an inguinal hernia?

An inguinal hernia usually happens when fatty tissue or a part of your bowel, such as your intestine, pokes through into your groin at the top of your inner thigh. It is the most common type of hernia, and mainly affects men.

How long does swelling last after inguinal hernia surgery?

It can take up to six months for swelling to go down completely after inguinal hernia surgery. The time it takes for swelling to go down depends on the size and location of your hernia, as well as how well you look after yourself and follow the advice of your consultant during your recovery period.

Can an inguinal hernia cause leg pain?

Yes, inguinal hernia pain can radiate to your legs, back, hips, and general pelvic area.

How common are inguinal hernias?

Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia. According to, around 70% of all hernias are inguinal hernias. 

How long does inguinal hernia repair surgery take?

The procedure usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:   

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to fit your routine  
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs  
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams  
  • Support by the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end  
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included  
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about this procedure, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in May 2022. Next review due May 2025.

  1. How it's performed - Inguinal hernia repair, NHS
  2. Open Inguinal Hernia Repair, NIH
  3. Inguinal hernia repair, NHS Inform
  4. Open Inguinal Hernia Surgery Care Instructions, University Hospitals
  5. Inguinal hernia repair, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

Why Ken went private for Hernia Repair Surgery

Ken chose to have hernia repair surgery so he could get back to doing what he loves most.

Find out why he chose to go private with Circle Health Group.

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